Saturday, July 26, 2008

Whimsical actions

The following is a little experiment and a work in progress prompted by a recent online run into the Clay Sanskrit Library. This library is a joint collaboration between New York University and other leading Sanskrit scholars with an aim to convert ancient classical Indian literature texts (written in the lingua franca of the day : Sanskrit) to a commonly understood English format. Some of the ancient stories struck me as being filled with wisdom, wit and profundity. In some others I also experienced inherent patriarchal attitudes that must have been common in those days filled with subjugation, sacrifices and stentorian men. On a whim, I decided to mashup some of the stories to a rhyming verse format and here is Part I of the mashup of a story by Dandin. The name of the book is Daśakumāracarita (What Ten Young Men Did) . Of course, the converted format will bear little resemblance to the original. Needless to say, the core idea was borrowed from the original and then regurgitated with personal flights of fancy over late nights last week. Again, this is a work in progress and the excerpt below is only a small part of what might (I envisage) turn out to be a 500+ line story/poem.

<Untitled – Part I>
The flanks were steep, as if by an axe had felled
Through the valley of green where the waters meld
The blue lotus and its nectars like flesh to bones
I came upon trees and shrubs living their loans.
Amid the expanse of green, particularly attractive,
Spied I, a circle of flowers of many colors reactive.
Young I was and least ready for what would lay
Before me, as would sages of old might say.
A gentle repast of nature in her reflection
Shimmering, dusky and swaying with flexion.
Surveying the distance from my earthen pride
There, amidst the green, a pool, I spied.
Unfettered thus, I presently alighted
Down rock steps as pale swans flighted.
I bathed and tasted the buds dripping nectar,
When, sans a ripple, a demon rose to hector
Hollering and shaking his rippling shoulders
His gaze was livid and arms thick as boulders.
He shook me asking ‘Who are you? Where are you from?’
Interrogated with menace, I answered the ugly scum:
‘Fearful giant, I was once sold for fees
From enemy to enemy I drifted over the deep seas.
I escaped on a ship and thence to these mountains,
Of fabulous colored crags and clustered fountains.
Upon spying your pool of gentle waters cresting,
After my escape, I dreamt of bathe and resting.
These explanations in him caused little cheer to flower
‘Answer my questions, and be free’, he said aglower.
I replied: ‘Go ahead, ask! your will and let me go,
Back to my ancient lands from long, long ago.
‘What is sad?’ ‘The hurt of a woman.’ – I said
‘What is dear?’ ‘Her virtues.’ To the demon I fed.
‘What is desire?’ ‘Your imagination.’ I said, bolder,
As I spied his anger now less colder.
‘What is the means to achieve the difficult?’
‘Wisdom’. I instituted with no apparent occult.
‘Tell me, what sorts of women are these?’
My answers impressed him, He begged; on his knees.
Thus I related: ‘There was a land called Trigarter.
Whose larders were wealthy and filled with barter.
In that land, lived three brothers who loved one another,
Richard, Ritchie, Rick; dusky like their mother.

to be continued...

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