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After Jealousy, Let's Relax - And Enjoy Literature

Discussion in 'Wednesdays with Varalotti' started by varalotti, Jan 30, 2007.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Most Gracious ILites,

    In the middle of this hectic week, I do not want to burden you with something heavy like jealousy or gossip. Let's turn to literature once again. And this time let us enjoy the words of the immortal poet, Kambar.

    When a known story like Ramayan passes through Kambars desk, it becomes literature, a lesson for life, a psychology text and above all a source of enduring happiness.

    In an epic running into thousands of poems it is very difficult to choose; rather it is difficult to leave out anything. Because each of Kambar's verse is an epic in itself. But there are places where Kambar deviates from the original, from all other Ramayan texts and indelibly stamps his unique signature.


    This Wednesday let's see two such places.

    This verse is from Sundara Kaandam.

    Sita is in captivity, in Asoka Vanam in Lanka. Ravana has just visited her and has threatened her with dire consequences if she does not budge. Sita now thinks of Rama. She thinks of the many poignant moments of their togetherness.


    She also thinks of Rama's equipoise. A simple verse is enough for Kambar to bring the scene to our eyes.

    'மெய்த் திருப்பதம் மேவு'
    என்ற போதினும்

    'இத் திருத் துறந்து ஏகு'
    என்ற போதினும்
    சித்திரத்தின் அலர்ந்த செந்தாமரை
    ஒத்திருக்கும் முகத்தை உன்னுவாள்

    When told, 'May you be the King'
    And when in the next minute his mother's words did sting,
    'May you leave these riches and go to the forest
    The face of Rama was at its best
    Like the lotus flower painted on the wall
    It did not move or sway, nor did it fall.

    Very few of us would have experienced such a change in fortune. Suppose you had planned to go to your favourite movie. You have dressed yourself up and are now having an eye on the clock and another on the driveway to see if your husband's car has come yet. You are raring to go. And you get a call from your husband cancelling the programme.

    There is no need that you should tell me how you will react. No need to give me the graphic details of your anger, your frustration and all. Well suppose we can measure that anger, that frustration as 1 unit. Ramas anger and frustration, when all of a sudden, he was asked to go to the forest, ought to have been at least a million units. But he remains the same.

    Kambar is an acclaimed expert on using similies. He says that Rama's face was like the painted lotus. He wanted to say, in the traditional manner, the real lotus.


    But then real lotusses sway with the wind. They sway with the water. Their petals blossom in the morning and close up in the night. So the simile will be wrong. So he switches to the picture of a lotus on a wall. Ramas face is no doubt beautiful but there is no disturbance.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2007
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  2. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Part 2

    The second verse I love the most is in the Coronation Scene at the end. Kambar remains faithful to the original but there are times that he flies high from the original text, using his creative imagination as his wings.

    Dasaratha, Rama's father died in grief. At the time of his death his hatred towards his third wife Kaikeyi and her son Bharathan dominate his mind. Kambar imagines that in such a state Dasaratha's sould did not get a proper release. He also says that Dasaratha was guilt-ridden because of the injustice done to Rama. He badly wanted to compensate Rama for that.

    Having created this knot almost at the beginning of the epic, Kambar unties it, making us cry in joy at his creative genius cry at God's love and the heights to which a man can go. This scene is unique to Kambar. I am writing the screenplay for that great scene.

    Ramas Pattabishekam (Coronation) is scheduled for the next day. There is happiness all around. Rama retires to his chambers late in the night. And there is this apparition of Dasaratha hovering around.

    The apparition calls Rama and tells him about his unfinished business.


    "I should repair the harm I did to you listening to that devil's (he is referring to Kaikeyi) words. I owe you one, Rama. Ask any boon you want. You shall have it. Now that I am dead and in a limbo state in Devaloka, I can grant you any boon. Go ahead. Ask."

    To Kambar Rama is God. When you offer God something and ask him to choose, what will God do? He will not choose what is best for Him. He will choose what is best for you, the giver.


    God is nothing but love when he gives you something and when he receives something from you. You are always blessed when you transact with God, irrespective of the fact, whether you are a giver or a receiver. (You cant be a giver to God, in the real sense of the term is a different story)

    Rama bows to the apparition of his dead and departed father and lost no time in asking a boon which will be more of a blessing for the dead King than for the one to be crowned the next morning.

    "Dear Father, Grant this boon, that the wife you discarded as evil, my mother and my Goddess Kaikeyi and the son you abandoned as the Devil, should be accepted by you as my mother and brother. I want no more."

    My eyes fail seeing this love, my hands fail, after thinking about this verse several hundred times, my heart still skips a beat and hence my translation can never do justice to the great poet. His exact words are,

    "தீயள் என்று நீ துறந்த என் தெய்வமும் மகனும்
    தாயும் தம்பியுமாம் வரம் தருக."

    In a flash of genius, which only God can have (and only Kamban can describe) Rama removes all the ill-feelings in Dasarathas mind and prepares his soul for the onward journey.


    He also removes the guilt from his father's mind. If Rama showers his love on Kaikeyi and Bharathan, what does that mean? It means that Rama is not hurt by Kaikeyi's actions and hence there is no need for Dasaratha to be guilty.

    Dasaratha's soul is ridden of its emotional baggage and it takes the onward flight to the unknown realms after blessing Rama.

    Our soul is in a state of rapture, a state in which it is impossible for us to be sad or to do harm to anybody. May the name of Rama protect us and bless us.

    sridhar
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2007
  3. vmur

    vmur Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Varalotti,

    I have been your most "vicious" critic, but now, I am in awe of your translation capabilities. Just "translation" doesn't do justice to your work, the more apt thing to say is that you have done true justice to Kamban. I have always wanted to read Kamba Ramayanam in it's full un-abridged tamil version, but I haven't been lucky to learn tamil literature and appreciate the finer details.

    Your's and ChitVish's columns have helped me appreciate Tamil literature better and I think this piece crowns it all. I don't know if it is because I am biased towards Kamban and Ramayan or because your transliteration is soo perfect.

    I really enjoyed reading this piece. Keep more of these flowing!

    Regards
    Vidya
     
  4. Varloo

    Varloo Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar,
    what can I say, I am too emotional at the moment after reading your post.
    I am in the same position of disappointment at the moment and I can try to pacify myself with Kambar's portrayal of Rama's emotions. I am a mere human and am prone to feel sad and disappointed. But at least, I can try to take the disappointment a little lightly.
    The second part is just superb, there is no comparison to that verse. Only Rama could say like that, the most lovable and obedient son that he was. He has served two purposes by his boon- of easing his father's mind of the ill feeling and also has got pardon from him for Kaikeyi and Bharathan.
    It is so very enlightening to read the selected verses and the desire to read more arises.Please do suggest an apt book to enjoy Kambhar.
     
  5. Vidya24

    Vidya24 Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Varalotti,

    Thank you is just a faction of the gratitude I have. To a person like me, reading Kamba Ramayanam in Its chaste Tamil is out of question.To be given such meaningful,sacred passages with translations- is a blessing, an opening to a whole new world of forgiveness, mental equanimity, duty, absolution. And what a translation. Almost recapturing Kambar is English, and the English is fantastic too. Looking forward to more and more.May SreeRamar endow you with the capability to give us more such lessons.

    regards
    Vidya
    (Sign yr name in any font, any case.What matters,is what you post and not how you sign.And that is another lesson learnt)
     
  6. Vandhana

    Vandhana Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar,

    What wonderful verses and an excellent translation indeed. Yes Our Kambar Ramayanam is indeed unique. Although i have not had the opportunity to read his work in its entirety, i have listened to its rendition in Harikathas and can truly appreciate his writing style. And I am moved everytime to tears .

    Please do keep posting snippets from our tamil classics . May be a nice one from Ponniyin Selvan next?

    Vandhana
     
  7. ambika ananth

    ambika ananth Bronze IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar

    In the corpus of Hindu sacred literature, Ramayana has such place of glory, it shines as a tiara at the very helm of it. This divine Saga was retold by many like Tulsidas, in pre-modern Avadhi dialect of Hindi and in lucid Telugu by a lady poet- Molla. Now, by introducing me through this thread to the very popular Kambar Ramayana and the devotion,beauty and poetry there in, you have made me enjoy the vibrant force of the text through your beautiful translation. While translating such texts, translators lose themselves in total bliss and ecstacy and so the outcome will have a fantastic quality. Thank you Sridhar ( as vidya said, this is too small a word) for this wonderful post.
    The spirit of Rambhakti is so powerful, when aroused through works like this, it simply flows out in streams from our eyes...oh, what a blessing it is..
    God Bless you...
    ambika
     
  8. vidhi

    vidhi Senior IL'ite

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    Dear Varalotti sir

    I have always enjoyed kamba ramayanam only in patti mandrams telecasted in doordarshan during my school and college days. I used to enjoy the way they explain about each scene from kamba ramayanam. But after that I did not get any opportunity to listen to it. Your writing reminded me of those days. Thanks.

    regards
    vidhi
     
  9. safa

    safa Bronze IL'ite

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    Again with your marvellous translation you made the reading enjoyable! Could understand "kambar ramayanam". Have read valmiki Ramayanam stories. Thanks for bringing beautifullly expressed forgiving message.
     
  10. sudhavnarasimhan

    sudhavnarasimhan Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar,
    You said lets relax...but this post was also fully an emotional one...only difference, tha it was not negative, but positive emotions....but still it brought tears to our eyes ....and i feel that any time i hear or read any litt on RAMA, it brings an overwhelming feeling, maybe that is bhakthi, i dont know ,which leads to those tears in my eyes! I recently heard a harikatha on Sita kalyanam,and at the end was moved to tears, just visualising Ram!
    And here also the second verse had so much depth in those 2 lines that kudos to Kamban for creating such a work and thanks to you for translating and explaining and sharing your thoughts on these verses!
     

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