Paramparaa – The Tradition Continues…

An Anthology on Poets and ‘Me as a Poet’ – Part 1 -Nakulan (a) Dr.Sreeram Jaganathan Setlur

Who is a poet?

He does not do what others do but sees what others do not see. With his brilliance, he throws light on what he sees so that others are benefited, just like the Sun. But in the process, since he does not move often he is termed lazy by the world!

पश्यत्यदृश्यमानञ्च न करोति कृतं परैः ।
काशयति पदैर्दृष्टम् अलसोपि कवी रविः ।। 1 ।।

The usage of word padaih may be appreciated. It means ‘by words’ (poet) and also ‘by steps’ (Sun).

Am I a poet? Can I call myself one? What if I call myself one?

विभान्तु तारागणसोमसूर्याः विभूषिते खे तु सदा प्रदीप्ताः ।
कदापि खद्योतकुलं मदीयं चकास्तु मन्दं किल पद्यलोके ।। 2 ।।

Let the (great poets) stars, moon and sun shine ever in the decorated sky of poetry. Let the dull-witted group to which I belong also shine a bit like the firefly on the surface of the earth!

My nature is to keep jumping like a monkey. How I can become a poet?

कपित्वं मे हि विद्येत चार्थवृक्षेषु कूर्दनम् ।
कवित्वं हन्त सिध्येत शब्दतरुषु साहसम् ।। 3 ।।

That I am a monkey is evident due to my jumping from object to object (artha). Let me become a poet, I dare to jump from word to word (sabda).

The words are indeed partial to poets like me! They favour only the great and not my kind!

अहमहमितीहन्ते शब्दा बुधनिबन्धने ।
नाहं नाहं पलायन्ते हन्त प्रयतने हि मे ।। 4।।

The words rush towards great poets like ‘me first, me first’ whenever they compose. The same words flee from my sight like ‘not me, not me’ when I make some effort to compose one! This is partiality!

The sabda alankara may be enjoyed though!

Who is a poet? Let me make an attempt to define one!

कविर्न कुरुते शब्दान् वाप्यर्थान्तु नवान् सदा ।
नानाविधेन योज्यन्ते तेन ते जायते मुदा ।। 5 ।।

A kavi (poet) does not create new words or meanings (always)! But the way he mixes the words and meanings in different ways (to bring out his idea) gives rise to joy (in different ways) in him and others!

The repetition of the sound ‘te’ ते, the words sadaa सदा and mudaa मुदा may be enjoyed among other aspects.

Experiences like happiness and sorrow are common to all. How do common people go about them? How do poets go about them?

जायन्ते हर्षशोकाभ्यां जनानां बाष्पबिन्दवः ।
चित्तार्णवात् कवीनां तु बहवः कवितेन्दवः ।। 6 ।।

Because of joy and sorrow, drops of tear arise in common men. But from the minds of poets, which are like oceans, arise many poems that are like full moons!

Maybe they over do the experience and the tears flow so much inward that their minds become oceans!

The alliteration may be enjoyed!

This sloka describes the life of poets (atleast some, if not all, who were in their own worlds without material aspirations) with pun on the words kosha, artha and sabda.

कोषेण सहवासोऽपि सदाऽर्थहीनवर्तनम् ।
अर्थान्तरेण सन्तोषः शब्दाऽभावे कवेर्भवे ।। 7 ।।

In the world of poets, happiness is due to meanings (not wealth) in the absence of sound (not words); they live in poverty though they are with a kosha (dictionary and not Treasury)!

With kosha but no wealth, no sabda but happiness with artha!

There are gradations in pratibha of poets and the below classification arises due to that:
Aashu kavi – instant composer
Citra kavi – composing with inbuilt patterns like a chariot etc
Madhura kavi – who composes melodious verses
Vistaara kavi – one uses big metres and vivid descriptions.

What about me?

I belong to the fifth as I am a strange poet, who is not clever and also composing without mastering the language with the help of dictionaries and manjaris!

चित्राऽऽशुमधुविस्ताराः कवयस्सन्तु केचन ।
पञ्चमोऽस्मि विचित्रोऽहमचातुरोऽपि तैस्सह ।। 8 ।।

Let there be some poets who belong to the categories of citra, aashu, madhura and vistaara. I, a strange one, not clever and of the fifth category, am also found among them!

Forgot to mention a single poet may fit in to the above mentioned four categories that is capable of composing all the four types! Example: Thirumangai Alwar, Vedanta Desika et al. There should be many more for sure.

This is dedicated for you – the rasikas!

संस्कृतरसिका युष्मान् मन्दकविर्नमाम्यहम् ।
रमेय त्वद्विनाभूतः एकाकी कवने वने ।। 9 ।।

In the field of poetry, not densely populated and hence can be called a forest, I might be enjoying alone, without you all! Salutations to you all from this dull-witted poet!

Kalidasa was a poet par excellence. Generally a phrase ‘upama kalidasasya’ is quoted in praise of him. Upama means simile, a comparison.

In Sanskrit, when the letter ‘a’ is added to a word, it may mean the opposite of the word or a person who does not possess it. For example the word ‘a-guna’ means who does not possess (good) qualities….

There are some exceptions. The word ‘anupama’ means that which is beyond comparison.

In this verse, in which I draw a comparison between Kalidasa and myself, I use it in the context of ‘that which does not have upama or simile itself in it.

A poet has a license to do anything even to kill…….poetry…..

‘उपमा कालिदासस्य’तदस्त्वनुपमा किल ।
कृतिरनुपमा मे च कलिदासस्य तां विना ।। 10 ।।

Let that saying be. Let Kaalidasa’s work be Anupama
(incomparable)….mine, of kalidasa’s, is also anupama for it lacks it….upama..

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