Outcasted Life in Colors of Social Inequalities

Book Title: Two Leaves and A Bud

Author: Mulk Raj Anand

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy: Amazon

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Mulk Raj Anand’s style of writing sets the reader to think deeply and it also evokes a reaction from the reader. I read this book as part of my Indian Writing in English course, in the second year of my BA (English Literature). It is a fact that English Writers of Indian origin spoke of highly serious topics such as caste and social discrimination. Or it could be that the choice of Writers were the ardent freedom struggle activists. Some Writers used humour while some believed in holding the note of deep contemplation in place during the course of their narratives about the British rule in India.

It was almost like Gangu’s the protagonist and his family’s troubles were never ending and the way out of the situation does not seem available anywhere. In that way, the plot’s moment of happiness was also colored by the protagonist’s non-achievable delusion of future happiness. While reading Anand’s work, I felt it, that it was a rather overload of sadness which kept lining the story from start to finish. It was never dropped even during those small happy moments in the life of the major characters. In this Anand reminded me of Charles Dicken’s writing keeps making things harder, especially to find even a moment of joy in any described situations in story.

The Story in a Nutshell

A Farmer of Amritsar who has lost his land to the moneylenders is forced to move out of his familiar hometown to an unfamiliar state in Assam where he struggles in the pathetic condition to just live one day after another with his family being safe. What happens to his family and to him in the new place and how the contractor just painted a life of prosperity which turned to nothing but a mirage of horror.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I liked the intensity with which Anand wrote this story. There is no rest from the constant feeling of desperation and desire that something good would happen makes a refrain in the mind’s of the reader; but then, there were no breaks. The strength of a human’s mindset of hope that keeps ebbing and flowing through our being is reflected in Gangu and his family too. But eventually, reality strikes and everything is just darkness. I also liked the flow of words when I read it and it felt like I was living in the British rule era.

What I disliked was the few characters major evil ones, but they were the plot progressing villains who were the catalyst to moving ahead of the story. But I think if you can make some character to be hated by the reader, then the readers are invested in your story and the protagonist.

That way, this book had a lot of interesting paragraphs where the author’s ability to describe the scene and emotions of the characters comes out very well. This novel was very sad and at the end of it, you are happy because it was a definite tragedy and it is a little over the top with injustice hanging on the hinges. But then, it kind of opens up the mind’s eye towards what could possibly be the reason for the existence of such discrimination and why is that the fellow human beings do not have the basic rights in their life and working condition.

The human’s rights are violated in the working condition of the plantation at every given point. This leaves a sense of constant injustice which becomes a given fact of the contracted workers’ life. That sense of injustice and inequality really gets to you when you read this novel.

My Opinion

The fact that I had to read this novel as a compulsory novel of the Indian Writing in English paper, I felt a sense of dark brooding when I read it. I don’t pick books which are unhappy, but then being socially aware is also part of the deal to read up books that are written with sadness in it.

I do want to read up literary works of Indian Writers, but their grammar is so hard and that of the Wren and Martin variety. But then you have rare thoughts of progress and advancement from these Writers which moves one’s sense of right. But I was someone who enjoyed styles of varied kind. If I read for a specific time a specific style, then, I tend to be able to pick it up.

Like for instance, there was a time, when I kept reading Shakespeare’s plays and landed up being able to read like natural English. I side poetry more than prose. Anand’s prose was one such pleasure to read, but the subject left me depressed and a little disappointed about the inequalities in a society of that time.

The people who live in the delusion that all is well and continue life in stupor, sometimes need to get their jolt in novels such as these. The novel brings out the oppression in plain statements and in turn showing this mirror of society the reader is not given any space to escape. I believe if the book does that to you, then you are reading an exceptional writer’s work.

Image Source: Amazon Online

L’sLT Series | Finding Peace In Confusion and Cluelessly Figuring Out

So, a few months back in December 2018 I believe, that all channels were advertising for channel selection and TRAI rules and regulation. I, for my part, was sure cool, I could see it and there was so many an actor explaining it. But for me, I was clueless, I only understood that I had to pick a family pack or Mera walla pack. Guess what do I do, I wait for these guys to call me and ask! Urgh! But no one called and one fine day channels started disappearing. I am in like ‘where are my channels?’ – a questioning mode, while I am looking on clueless as ever?

This led to a fictionalized mixed reality of creative non-fiction which of course I am enjoying writing. I do not have anything against anyone, but just that when procrastination leads to a mess eventually which becomes harmful for the procrastinator. These last-minute rescue decision-making has become a way of life for me, which I am trying to change. But sadly, not even the 48 days or oru manadalam (Ayurvedic time duration of a medicine course) practice seems to be working.

So let us talk about doing the right thing at the right time is the wise thing; while a right action, if delayed then, it is not the right action at all. Most of our life’s situations are time-bound and some require an instant decision, while some can afford to be thought over before arriving at a decision.

So why is taking a quick on the spot decision is so vital? My life is filled with decision taking on a daily basis and it is nothing different or unique about it. But over the years, I have started to learn how to take the decision not just for me but on behalf of others too. There are moments when I want to chew on a decision like a cow’s cud process time, but then time is premium so some decision is taken on the spot.

When you take decision for yourself and if things go wrong despite one’s best efforts, then it is easier to just tell ourselves that we will live with it. But when the decision is on behalf of others, then I become super conscious of the extent of responsibility that lies on my shoulder.

There are moments when I freeze while taking a decision, then it starts the chain of events and choices. The postponing of decision-making has a huge impact on a later date. In my earlier days, I was such a free spirit who never thought again of any decision, made a choice and then move on, was my attitude. Even today, I have that free-spirit surprising me with its presence. There is much that is mysterious in life among them is my logically processing to a decision.

I always keep thinking, that should one take the instincts’ hint or think it through logically and then take a decision? A Egg and Hen question. My twisted logic series is a different track altogether, maybe should be another of this series entry. So, for instance, there are moments when I am completely in swirls of logic because I think in circles and it can be very tiring. I love to keep pondering and if the material I am pondering on is literary then, I am super happy.

For instance, when you need to take a decision on a text, even though I don’t know it that well, it seems easier to decide, but not with live people. But I have improved by far in these many years of experience with collaborating with people. Honestly people are far more fun and you learn with them too. I still feel that taking a decision on behalf of others is very super tricky. But then, if we must, then we must. The rule of my thumb is to make sure it is for the common good for all involved.

Eventually, the act of decision making is sometimes art and sometimes science, but then also an experiential learning that grows the being and the spirit. I wish there were some quotes to give away as I think of all these wonderful things about decision-taking the swamps around my thoughts. Life is about upgrading non-stop and don’t settle quickly.

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L’sLT Series| Humour In Written and Visual Format

The inspiration to write Life’s Like That series came up from my past reading experience. I used to read Reader’s Digest with great pleasure and I believe they have a section in their book titled “Life’s Like That” which tickles my funny bones.

Life’s Like That is my favourite section has cheered me many times when things did not look great. I check out the Laughter the Best Medicine and Life’s Like That, Humor in Uniform are the sections that I read first and then go in for other more emotional articles. Somehow, in these sections, I feel the best part of quick wit is seen.

I always felt close to humour because it lightens the situation. Given the fact that my siblings are better at humour than I am. I am never succinct in any situation, I am an over-the-top garrulous person who loves talking non-stop nonsense. For good humour is sure to be killed if you are not able to sharpen the narrative for the right impact.

That reminds me of Non-Stop Nonsense, a German comedy show which was hilarious. It was a voiceless comedy show. I believe if you have humour in you, then you can make anyone laugh. These days, I have a very rare opportunity to laugh out loud. I have subscribed to Comedy Central; but then, I don’t know where in the maze of channels it is listed! I think I need to find it, one of these days.

I think I liked the DD days when you were given programs in a ration. From 6:30 pm to 10 pm, then DD goes to sleep showing dancing dots on the screen. I think that was much better than the 24/7 shows. Of course, there are far more thrilling and exciting shows now. Since, when you see a drama in DD it just looks like a stage play. But these days we get VFX rendered dramas, yoohoo!

So, getting back to humour in the text, I believe it allows the mind to think with a sense of being wiser somehow. The reading of a joke is far different from seeing a humour filled drama or scene. We have become so much about visual and audio that flash on our mobiles, that a no-nonsense text just plain does not go well down our consumption tube.

But I am an old timer, for me reading the books is very important, these days it the Kindle. I love words and when they invoke a burst of joyous laughter, I am thrilled. There is a different kind of witty response, but the ones that leave you baffled are the best wit for me. I love seeing Standup comedy. Among the various Facebook post, I liked ones that had Standup Comedy links. Sorabh Pant’s comedy though not the best, but yeah kinda cool. By God, I got no idea how I got him in my friend’s list. Anyway, I don’t regret it, but I don’t know about Sorabh though. Ama yaar khanh phasgaye hum! Most probably.

Anyway, the skill of telling a joke is almost like the ability to pause, fast forwarding and even it out in the narration of the joke. I had a book on Sardaji jokes, I tell you, it was hilarious, I believe the best thing about humour is its ability to remove stress and to makes life more human somehow.

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Nightingale Diary 2019 | My Tryst with Diaries

The year 1988 was significant because it was the time of my maximum changes. I was growing, changing and figuring myself out, and everything was a part of the process of growing up. I had a lot of things happening in my life and for the first time in my life, I felt joy since I could pour my thoughts into a journal. I believe around the Summer of 1987, I wrote my first poem on the four seasons and partly the reason why, even today, I want to read Ṛtusaṃhāra (ऋतुसंहार) in the originally written language.

When I came to know the four flat seasons that I had described was of no comparison to the power-packed English version of Ṛtusaṃhāra (ऋतुसंहार). I hoped and prayed that I could write so movingly like Kavi Kālidāsa (कालिदास).

These days I refrain from writing journals and have switched to analyzing the text and performing a high-level exposition to find the core values that I hold in my life. I have always been a very closed person, so I find it difficult to connect with people. But with books and texts, I am totally in connected mode.

I have never bought diaries for myself. Because usually, my father would give me his company’s complementary diary that he would have ordered to gift it to his clients. So when I planned to get a diary, he would simply hand me that year’s copy of the diary. I was happy with it since it had a lot of lines for me to fill.

I used to write in those diaries and sometimes 1989 diary would have entries till 2000. I never stopped writing diaries and I don’t know at what point I started to maintain an Online journal in MSWord format. Around 2001 I believe I began holding Journal Yeared online versions. Things became a lot more different with an online journal and somehow I never wrote as often as I did my physical diary.

But let me backtrack a little here. When I first wrote these diary entries, pouring my very soul in it, I found a sense of peace at the end of the exercise. It was almost cathartic feeling. One more interesting thing is that I always picked Reynold’s Bold pen to write. I liked it to be over thick ink stains on the pages with my hand clearly printed and which spoke of me, as someone who was over-emotional. I am over emotional to a fault sometimes, but then, I try to meditate on words and find my balance.

After many years, this January 2019, I got a book from the Nightingale Brand of Diaries in Amazon. For some reason that I cannot seems to bring myself to explain, I was fascinated with a specific type of diary. I couldn’t stop myself from buying it, but then, I didn’t have a huge budget for the diary. So I spent Rs. 135/- from Satish Sellers since I like the Diary pattern. It was about environmental themes.

When I got the B6 Diary with my favorite elements in it, my heart felt a joy of the Summer of 1987 when I wrote my first poem, which was a well-kept secret for a long time. For me, diaries are an essential way to connect with my inner being. I usually meditate with words. Even now as I am writing this there are parts of my thoughts which are clearing and expressions get refined.

But more to the Diary that I got, I am not writing a long statement in the Nightingale Diary, but merely connecting dots of thoughts to mark my understanding. This diary is used more for work and writing life. I can write my heart out on my father’s company diary and I am still searching for a diary that will allow me to pour my soul in it.

I think I miss those days when my diary and I would spend countless hours just being ourselves. My diary silent and listening; while I am garrulous and expressive. To this day, there no one as close as a diary in my life. I find my peace and joy in it.

Somehow MS Word didn’t feel like a person and a close friend just like Anne Frank’s kitty. I think I need to find my journal again and start writing my heart out. Sometimes, when you leave your heart out on your sleeve, people will squash it and leave you bruised; but a diary would never hurt you like that. That compassionate, non-judgemental diary is a gift to the shy and the social outcasts.

But overall, I was happy with the Ecologic version of the Diary even though I felt guilty that I have bought a diary for the first time in my life. I have always used leftover books and father’s company diary for my journal entries. I want to revive my writing habit and get back to verbally analyzing things in my life in written format.

I am working in the very company that makes Nightingale Diaries and much more strong branded products that take me back to my first love at first sight poem to the seasons of India. Of course, I am looking at what my life is leading me up to with all the new experiences.

In that way, my diary entries in the Nightingale brand diary is more succinct and that is not my old self. I want to probe into the very being of my self and discover myself again in restructured words and be the change that I seek within me.

My every company that I worked was always about spiritual growth for me. I go by my father’s adage if you are given a task then persistently do it until you finish it. Over the years, words have been the tools that I took to the work table and never regretted it.

Words move me, sway me, rock me to sleep, or just plain cathartic process. I want to revive hand journal writing with my special brand of pen Reynolds Bold. Someday, I would revive my passion of the first journal entry which I shared with my brother after many years. He read it and smiled and gave it back to me that felt like an encouragement to me.

 

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Podi from the Online Outlet Idlies

How many of you can remember your patti’s kaipakkuvum? I come from a joint family system where uncles, aunts and galore of cousin team up to make an experience well worth it. A brahmin household is teamed with specific food items which are exclusive to that community.

Our signature food items come in a set. Like Vetrikuzhumbu with Parruppu Thovaiyal, Sutappalam with tomato rasam seasoned in ghee and spluttered mustard, Adai with Avaiyal and Idli with Milagaipodi.

Ah! When I think of Milagaipodi, I am reminded of my mother, I learned the making this side-dish from her. When she religiously makes it and the visitors praise her effort, I think my mother felt great pride in her cooking.

Since the making of podi quantity was for a larger audience, so, I felt it was easier to buy them for just a single user. I have been searching for that specific amma’s brand of milgaipodi and have been sadly disappointed. Since even the Sharada Stores ones also was not close to Amma’s style. About a few days back one of my new friends suggested that I try Idlies an outlet of all Brahmin cuisine to check out the Podi.

I was nervous but then, I knew I am being guided by the authentic source. When I tried the Podi this past Saturday, I was lost in thoughts and missed my mom the most. I felt sentimental and remembered how my grandmother used to have idles, podi and curd combo.

There are some stylistic preferences that one would almost remember WB Yeats’ poem A Prayer for My Daughter, where he explains how girls eat crazy salads. In many ways, life is about food and various unique ways that people have it. Like for instance, having curd rice with mixture or omapodi. There are some really weird combos and I have such preferences too.

The interesting part was the fact that Podi’s package had one of the best themes and the color combo was simply fantastic. The touch of color scheme and the caricature of grandmom with the little girl in the kitchen was such a wonderful design theme.

But I am more used to the Meenakshi Ammal “Cook And See” the every new bride’s mother’s gift to her daughter. I tell you, Meenakshi Ammal used words that were hard to understand. She spoke about how to cook rice on Vengalapanai. Of course, she would describe how to do the scare thing of draining excess water.

But there was much that I learned from cooking various dishes. My mother taught me a few signature dishes which I kept repeating but I would experiment too sometimes. There are days when I feel like cooking up a storm and there are days when I would not move my being to even boil water.

But there are days, when I feel truly inspired to create a most complicated dish I take all efforts. Pappaji loved my subzi and amma didn’t like Northern spices. So I had to strike a balance for both of them. Among the many things, there is a certain food that reminds me of specific people in my family.

Food always brings the family together and binds us in a common understanding of people who you love-hate and everything in between. Podi reminded me of three people when I tasted with my idlies. My athai who passed away recently and she was a rock of Gibraltar in the kitchen. The food preparation was a joint effort of all the brothers, daughters-in-law and athai. Athai used to be the main cook with my mother making sure she gets the ingredients that are needed. So when my athai makes Podi it is wonderful to taste.

The brahmin household is never bereft of this ingredient. It is a quick breakfast side-dish solution. If you are pressed for time and cannot make the chutney, use the Podi, the all-purpose side-dish for Idly and Dosa. If the hunger factor is beyond a bearable point, pull a plate, make some quick swish Dosas and have it with podi. The countless joy of having that podi was to refresh the mind of past memories of my childhood.

 

 

 

Thiruppavai – Godai’s Gita Volume 2 | My Notes

Book Title: Thiruppavai – Godai’s Gita | Volume 2

Author: Swetha Sundaram

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Get Your Kindle Copy: Amazon US | Amazon India 

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Swetha’s narrative style has the old South Indian tradition of storytelling clubbed with loosely knit story format that works wonderfully for this commentary on Andal’s Thiruppavai. There are so many micro short stories woven with such sensitivity that it is an experience of being in a timeless boat floating on the oceans of never-ending stories.

The Story in a Nutshell

Goda, the composer and the versatile story weaver of the Thiruppavai brings out the deep-seated desire of the girls in Ayaripadi to celebrate and to get Lord Krishna’s exclusive companionship. Goda in this volume is visiting every missing girls’ house to personally awake them from their slumber to join in the Pavai Nombu celebration.

The Volume 2 stories are as compelling as those from the volume 1. These are small incidences picked from various Puranas and Vedic time stories. She also picks up stories from the contemporary era too, when she talks about the Alwars who lived before her and their life stories. The never-ending link of stories and facts of the rites provides for an entertaining conversation among the girls.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I liked all little and big stories. I didn’t feel tired from the constant deviations from the main event of the Pavai Nombu. The stories felt like an ambling aging river carries with slush pile of silt in its bed. The time spent on the three girls in Goda’s list of missing girls is well spent on learning so many interesting news bites about the Lord and His gracious benevolence towards His devotees.

Some of the stories were rehashed, but then, they still were entertaining to listen to again. For someone like me, if you are also interested in listening to stories then this Kindle book will entertain you immensely. There is a lot of information about the various religious figureheads and stories related to them are narrated with equal passion with which the other Puranic stories are narrated.

My Opinion

The Volume 2 keeps the interest going while providing new information about where the Pavai Nombu gathering has arrived at. This volume may be spent on waking up the girls, but at the same time, there is a lot happening with the internal cleansing process. With every discussion and arguments with the Goda and her friends to wake the missing girls, the internal thought is cleared and focused on Lord Krishna and his many avatars.

Thiruppavai – Goda’s Gita Volume 1 | My Take

Book Title: Thiruppavai – Goda’s Gita | Volume 1

Author: Swetha Sundaram

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Get Your Kindle Copy: Amazon US | Amazon India 

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Swetha Sundaram an Instrumentation and Controls Engineer who lives and works in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Her narrative style was exactly like the ones of my grand aunts who would entertain my siblings, cousins and me with stories from various Puranas. Her narrative had a similar fault of meandering through the maze of stories.

Of course, there is no doubt that the stories are so interesting that you would not mind being deviated from the main course. In this volume, she sets the stage for the pasurams by providing a wonderful introduction to the primal God Varahar Perumal. She informs the origin of the thought seed of Thiruppavai to the moment when the Earth got saved by Varahar Perumal.

The first volume covers five pasurams and the main space is provided to the beginning and the life story of Godai and how her adoptive father Periyalvar found her under the Holy Basil plant. Her brilliance as a child and her love for Perumal is beautifully articulated in the early chapters.

The Story in a Nutshell

The story is about gathering all young girls to perform the Pavai Nombu with a secret agenda of acquiring Krishna for a husband. Godai the cheerleader of the group of young girls undertake the task to bring about this group worship of Lord Krishna. The first five pasurams deal with the first meeting to undertake the fast.

The entire setting is Gokulam of Godai’s imagination with River Yamuna playing some lead parts in the narrative. This volume deals with the part where the plan is set up to meet at predawn hour and perform the fast on Lord Krishna. The setting is a group meeting near the Yamuna with elder’s consent and a secret agenda of unifying with Krishna.

Godai and girls meet near the River Yamuna and discuss the purpose of the meeting. They then set up a plan to worship Lord Krishna with the secret agenda of getting Him for themselves. The girls are thrilled about the agenda and are excited to start.

Next day, after the late meeting, some ten girls are found missing. So Godai with few other girls who have arrived for the meeting sets out to find them. In the course of finding those girls, Godai wakes up each girl giving her some really nice stories in the wake.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I liked all the connected stories that are displayed like a bouquet of fragrant flowers. The stories brought back childhood memories of how the story used to be told. There was no fixed rule for the order in which the story needs to be told, a story could evolve from one look or one word uttered and completely sidetrack the narrator and listener. But then when it comes back to the strayed track to the main agenda, that is, to attain Lord Krishna; it has been beautifully done.

One thing that I would not say that I disliked it; but more out of concern for the readers who are not well-versed with Indian Mythological stories may need some context fixing especially when the conversation moves towards Alwars and their magical experiences.

My Opinion

I feel this volume was such a pleasure to read for two main reasons. One reason is that the small and big stories about Lord Vishnu and his many avatars were simply superb to read. The other reason being that I got to know so many unknown stories and the wonder of it is present like nectar consumed in Godai’s Vrindavan along with the Gopikas as another Pillaiy.

Image Source: Amazon India

Emotional Expression of Gita Govinda | An Inward Seeking

Work Title: Gita Govinda

Poet: Poet Jayadeva (12th Century  Court Poet)

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy:  Amazon | Flipkart | SnapDeal

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Poet:

The Gita Govinda by the Bengali court poet Jayadeva of the 12th Century, which was done to be enacted as a dance drama, touches on all the emotional aspects of the lovers from separation to the final union. The creative work is divided into 12 Cantos with 8 couplet groups or Astapathi. The cantos speak of the various emotional factors of Krishna and Radha, in the cowherd incarnation. The lyrical ballad describes the parting and reunion of the two lead players of the dance drama.

Little Information About Gita Govinda

The poetry of this work uses the various eight emotions of lovers starting from separation to satisfaction of union with a clever device to be a cathartic spiritual experience. This is essentially a love song with dramatic components in them of an aspirant seeker and the goal of the search. The poet has extensively used the various dramatic and emotional pointers to bring out the flavor of various yearning that is found in the various characters involved in the lyrical song.

This piece is structured for Vasantha or Spring season celebration. Jayadeva introduces many elements which enrich the poetry to be very visual and emotional work. The fact that onlookers feel these elements as part of their emotional growth, is achieved with perfect setting and poetry. The greatest expression of love is found in this work in the form of a description of The Spring season’s scenic elements. The poet plays with the various faun and flora of the season with such poetic finesse that the poems move the minds of the reader.

Gita Govinda in Southern Vaishnavism Tradition

The poetry has traversed through the various parts of India and has been adapted with varying degree of change in the format.  In the South, the Vaishnavism of Tamilnadu has adopted this work to be presented in the musical format. The Radha Kalyanam format is set up to bring out the beauty of the poetry and musical scores have been already chosen and a tradition has been created. Of course, the performing group of Bhagavathars and their chorus can experiment as per their Mano Dharam with other ragas for the translation of original work in Tamil.

The work is treated as a spiritual expression of an aspirant seeker of God who eventually finds Him and becomes one with Him. The work is given religious value with the elements of the Bhakti movement. The gathering of the Bakthas’ experience of the presence of God’s grace being bestowed upon them is given more importance in this format.

The Story in a Nutshell

The 12 cantos play around the dramatic scene of separation of Radha and Krishna and eventually how both of them come together. The eight various aspects of the heroines’ emotions and Krishna’s mental states are described with exquisite finesse by the poet. The lyrical quality of the work is appealing to the reader who takes pleasure in the detailed expression of the various dramatic elements of the relationship between Krishna and Radha.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I liked the fact that the poet uses the lyrical ballad mode to bring out the beauty of the relationship along with their various impressions. In this, the most important aspect would be the human emotions being explored with delicate modes of expression.

My dislike was the fact that I could not read the original work in the Sanskrit language. But the beauty of the poetry was not lost even in translation. I could still connect with the core work in translation.

My Opinion

Personally, I found the poem very erotic and it took me some time to actually fix the spiritual implication in it. Even though I travesed from the Southern version to original Sanskrit version. Bakthi movement has added spiritual value and south has added the ritualistic factor to the work. But no one can miss the lyrical beauty of the work.

Radha Kalyanam A Musical Event 2018| My Take

flute and feather

I came to know about Radha Kalyanam from my mother. She would reminiscence about incidents from her life. One of her past incidents was about her youngest sister’s interest in the Radha Kalyanam event more out of necessity than any spiritual import. She attended the event and participated in getting alms from the brahmin community, dancing around in the celebratory wooden press, and free meals at the end of the event. So, Radha Kalyanam was a reference that I got from my mother and I always thought of my aunt who passed away at a very young age.

I never really understood about Radha Kalyanam, since it was not my topic of interest. Naturally, I never could relate to the program format that my mother explained to me. But there were moments when I could imagine my youngest aunt jumping around the Ural or Wooden press pounding stick and finding whatever connection that she found in it.

Radha Kalyanam brought back sad notes for me and surprisingly, I attended the Radha Kalyanam for about most part on 29th and 30th December 2018. I feel that being a semi-passive audience could be a little hard on one. I definitely feel, that it the hardest to sit it out on a hard cold floor covered with a thin carpet and the AC in full blast. Apart from a bad back and butt after the program, I was left with a feeling that I really don’t know anything about Jayadevar’s “Gita Govinda” work.

My neighbor’s family has been holding this function during Marghazi Tamil month for the past three years. It usually coincides with the first day of the new year. Marghazi falls between mid-December to mid-January. Interesting thing is that Chennai climate is pretty cold in this month compared to the other months in the Tamil Calendar.

The past years, I had just quickly visited for a few moments and listened in from the comforts of my home since their function happened on their terrace. This year they had booked a hall for this function. I had no clue about the format of the program until this year and would always wonder why the singer was not doing a good job. I enjoy solo more than group singing. The only time I am fascinated by the group singing is when they have practiced a lot as a choir. The group singing is all about coordination and mellifluous voices that appear as a single unit.

This Marghazi of 2018 I felt an interesting need to attend this program and understand its import. So even when I did get the invite, I was thinking of just giving a quick visit and leave after taking tambulam. But somehow during my research on Andal’s work Thiruppavai, I came across a connecting reference to the rasaleela of Vrindavan and Andal’s call for Pavai Fasting.

The event format was not clear until I read a little more about the source work and the significance of the Radha Kalyanam. As an aftermath of attending the event, I had a hard time to forget Radha. The principal human Atmas are represented by Radha and gopikas who become unified with Krishna consciousness.

Around the second week of the new year, I decided to get to the bottom of this mystery that was making my mind so confused. Radha and Krishna’s relationship has a mystical quality to it which by the way, does not fall under the common human definition of love. But the audience can relate to the lower level resonance of love and the affection of human qualities and its human plane references.

So during my research of Radha Kalyanam, I found the following sites very informative:

So, I decided to get back to the main text written by Jayadevar in the “Gita Govind”. The Tamil version of the Astapathi of Jayadevar’s poetry is sung with great fervor of devotion. The translation of the Astapathi provided an incline into the poetic structure of the Gita Govind’s 24 verses of 8 couplets in a pastoral lyrical ballad.

There is a huge difference in the format of Thiruppavai and Gita Govind. Both speak of pastoral scenic places and settings. In the expression of love there lies the difference. The poetry is definitely conservative in the case of Andal’s Thiruppavai compared to the Astapathis. The view of the exact transliteration of the poetry may not provide a clear understanding of the central theme if the context is not fixed at the beginning.

Out of context, the Astapathi sounds very erotic since the poetic format is structured in such a way that it brings out pastoral love of Nayika and Nayak. It parallels the universal sought spiritual goal for each individual atma to get unified with the supreme Paramatma. This time Radha Kalyanam was interesting to follow and observe the various elements of the event. I am yet to find the Supreme Krishna consciousness.

In that I believe, Andal’s Nachiar Tirumozhi is closer to the Astapathi, yet Andal is very conservative in her expression. This conservative expression is essentially very south based poetry rules. Given that Andal’s exposure to various literary works at that time would have been provided by her adopted Father Periazhwar. Given that she was educated and learned to write a pastoral poem on her ishat devatha first as a communal prayer event and later as a personal one-on-one conversation leading to individual aspiration of sainthood. In that I liked the poetic quality of both the poets for different reasons. Though the pastoral quality of Gita Govind is sublime experience for me.

 

Image Source: Timelines.com

The Presiding Goddess of the River of Human Imagination

Book Title: Saraswati’s Secret River

Author: Devdutt Pattanaik

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy:  Amazon | Flipkart | SnapDeal

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Devdutt Pattanaik is an excellent storyteller who brings back the magic of Indian myths and mythological stories. These stories are said in a conversational tone which makes it very appealing to read. The art of storytelling is at a matured state with this author, since he takes the various curves of the story with relative ease and making the story very appealing.

The Story in a Nutshell

A surprised school teacher meets the goddess of education, Goddess Saraswati and learns something new in history, geography, and literature. This is the most needed lesson for any aspiring students and teachers because it brings out the true essence of education. In the search of the River Saraswati, the readers come to terms with the actual river and how it can be saved.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I liked the structure of the story. There were many facts which were imaginatively displayed and interlinked with the Saraswati River which has dried up. The best way to revive this river was provided in this book with an interesting twist.

I disliked the fact that the book was a very small one and ended very soon. I wished that I could spend more time with the River Saraswati and explore the true path towards being educated.

My Opinion

I found the take away from the book on what happens to be the true value of education. The mad rush for earning high scores, and somewhere down the lane, the joy of learning is totally lost. The idea is not to keep getting higher mark by mere replication of the text. I liked the idea of a day’s class was by following what made a student curious about on that particular day.

There is another thing that is equally interesting to note which is explained beautifully in this book. When one learns about a topic, the related subjects become interlinked, which then, enhances the student’s thought process. This thought I found it very interesting and innovative in this book. This is a great one time read but it is also something leaves you thinking about our education system and reviving River Saraswati in ourselves is an excellent thought.

Image Source:  Saraswatis Secret River