Saturday, 26 November 2011

A pause; while visiting Mahabharata. 67

Reality sinks in and the Pandavas get ready to begin their 12 year Vanavasa in the forests. Kunti being too old stays with her brother-in-law Vidura. Pandavas along with Draupadi bid a sad and tearful farewell to Kunti, wear clothes as hermits, suitable for the forest and head towards the forest. Dussasana unable to control himself, gloats and makes fun of the Pandavas and their dramatic downfall in a matter of a day. 

 Bheema, Arjuna and the twins deep in anger at this unwanted show of derison by Dussasana make terrible vows to destroy kauravas. Bheema promises to kill Dussasana in a war and rip his heart out and drink his blood.

Choosing to take a pause, discovered some interesting features in the design of a blog. While it feels good to  display the total pages viewed for the entire blog. The figures are a bit inflated as they include even my views. The number of page views for each post can also be seen by the blogger. The page views varied on this blog from a flattering 200 on one post to a dismal 9 in another! My guess is that about 20 or so read or at least take a look. A few friends said that they are waiting for me to complete the blog before they read it. An incentive to keep at it.

More impressive was that the blogger design specified audience by country. While it feels great to see  more than 10 countries listed, not clear how Russia, France, Netherlands and Germany are in it! It may be because the servers are stationed in those countries!

In one of my chats with my friend Chandramouli, I marvelled at the hard work put in by our ancients in copying the epic and recopying it again and again. Especially as the palm leaf books could decay and disintegrate, get damaged in handling and by insect bites or even catch fire! Later there was the threat of being destroyed by the non-believers. It must have a been a tremendous task protecting them.

(Today's Bangalore mirror, 28/11/11, writes about an engineer who has designed a machine to write on palm leaf. “It took all of 10 years because the technology was forgotten. The machine itself took two years. Streamlining the leaf processing and preservation techniques took another eight years. In the first instance, I purchased a truckload of palm leaves.

But only 10 of those leaves could be used for writing. People had even forgotten which kind of palm leaves had to be used for this purpose. Preserving our traditional technology should have been the work of the government. I did it out of love for our culture and tradition. Palm leaves cannot replace paper books, but why should we let our tradition die,” Reddy asks.

 So I am not the only one thinking about palm leaf books!)

 He then reminded me about the Vedas, which were preserved for posterity only through memory and recital. And added that the Devanagari script while old was not the oldest. He said it was derived from the Brahmi script. Which again could have originated from something else. (He did mention the name! But did not register over the phone chat we had!).

 Anyway Linguistics is again a fascinating subject and it is impressive that a software engineer, Lawrence Lo, has created a website on ancient scripts.

Discovered another website, Newsfinder, which has extracted information from the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1982 and the article 'The development of Indian scripts by Lobsan Payat' is thought provoking.

To quote:
 The bibliographical evidences indicate that the Vedas are written in the Grantha and Nagari scripts, and according to tradition Veda Vyasa, a Dravidian, compiled and wrote the Vedas. The Grantha script belongs to the southern group of scripts and Veda Vyasa being a Dravidian would certainly have used it. Since the earliest evidence for Grantha is only in the 5th c. AD, the Vedas were written rather late.

Another important fact is brought out in the account of the religion, philosophy, literature, geography, chronology, astronomy, customs, laws and astrology of India about AD 1030 by Alberuni (edited by Dr. Edward C. Sachau). He states that, “The Indian scribes are careless, and do not take pains to produce correct and well-collated copies. In consequence, the highest results of the author’s mental development are lost by their negligence, and his book becomes already in the first or second copy so full of faults, that the text appears as something entirely new, which neither a scholar nor one familiar with the subject, whether Hindu or Muslim, could any longer understand. It will sufficiently illustrate the matter if we tell the reader that we have sometimes written down a word from the mouth of Hindus, taking the greatest pains to fix its pronunciation, and that afterwards when we repeated it to them, they had great difficulty in recognising it.”

This is a clear opposite to Yuan Chwang’s time in the 7th c AD, when this young Chinese Buddhist scholar came to India in search of authentic sacred books which he accomplished. However, scholars indicate that the same is not true with early Tamil classics like the Sangam literature (3rd c. BC - 3rd c. AD) which are remarkably helpful in the reconstruction of history (K.K.Pillai, Tamil Literature as Source Material for History - Journal of Institute for Asian Studies).

The first epigraphic evidence of Sanskrit is seen in 150 AD and this inscription is in the Brahmi script. 

 This prompts a question: 'What about the script by Lord Ganesha which Veda Vyasa dictated not-stop'.

Anyway my aim is to read through the epic and discover for myself the essence of this story and hopefully, understand how it can be applied. More of it later as there is a lot more to read!

No comments: