It was Ugadi, the Telugu New Year’s Day on Fri day, the 23 rd instant. I wish every body a happy and prosperous new year, which is named the Nandana year, the Year of The Son, or The Year of The Paradise.
Panchanga Sravanam, the exposition of the portents for the New year, used to be a personal affair in olden days. It is now a glittering political event. The learned foretellers, it appears to me, seem to find ways to please their political bosses. Each comes out with his own different forecast. The common denominator is that each is tailored to suit the respective sponser… Of course they could be telling the absolute future truth as perceived them, for all I know..
After all,as ruefully observed by Confusius, ( my spelling is a little bit weak . I feel I should spell the name as Confucius), it is difficult to predict, especially with regard to the future. My mom used to tell us in our childhood, that there was a curse to make it so, by the spouse of Lord Siva, Goddess Parvati.
Be it so. We know how disastrous it could be to know such things in advance, from a hilarious episode from a Telugu movie in which the famous Telugu comedian, Brahmanandam, seeks and gets a boon to know what was in the other person’s mind. He regrets having sought such a disconcerting boon, when he comes to know what in fact was in his spouse’s mind.
Once, during a discussion on natural calamities in which the eminent Telugu poet
The late, Sri Sri participated, there was a callous mention by a participant, of a Telugu saying, ” Dying along with four others is no less equivalent to attending a wedding “. (The common Telugu term ‘ four others ‘ means ‘many others’, or ‘ a big group’.
Sri Sri, well known for his surrealistic and ready wit, is reported to have commented that,, ” Getting married to four others is equivalent to courting death”.
He must have known what he was talking, for he was speaking from his own experience of having had, not four but just a paltry, two, living wives.
I am thus, all sympathy for my compatriots (and others across the world), of some other religions who are permitted to have, well, not more than four wives, ( not spouses mind you) at any one time. They are thus deprived of the bliss of pursuing Eka Patni Vratam ( the vow to have only one legally wedded wife living at any one time), by misguided Governments fighting shy of bringing in a common civil code for the welfare of all their citizens . I am sure enlightened souls and social reformers with first hand experience in these matters take it up with the insensitive Governments the case of their suffering brethren. This could perhaps be a fit case for mention in the current State of Human Rights Report, but I am not quite sure, having been tethered to just one spouse for life.
I can understand why the feminists in India are blind to the obvious gender discrimination implied in this matter. I will cover this subject in another post.
Having known from Sri Sri how very abhorrent it is to get married to four others, I now know, why a legendary Old Man of Lyme stopped just short of marrying four others, I still pity him, for having surely, braved greater travails than Sri Sri, though he was loath to admit it.
There once was an old man of Lyme
Who married three wives at a time,
When asked, “Why a third?”
He replied, “One’s absurd!
And bigamy, sir, is a crime.
——–( William Monkhouse)
There is the memorable story of a famous ruler in South India, Vijaya Raghava Nayaka, who reportedly neglected his Queen, though an accomplished scholar and poetess in her own right, in preference to an accomplished scholar-poetess- courtesan. The hapless Queen swallowing her pride sends a plaintive missive to her contender, cautioning that it was not proper for her to appropriate the king entirely to herself. To this the other lady, replies with a great lyric quoted to this day, “Tamu vanithalgaro, valapimpu nerperugaro’, seeking to know whether it was the queen’s case that she grappled physically with the king and dragged him to her humble abode saying, ” You . fellow, Vijaya Raghava, why are you tardy, follow me along, quick”, and kept him there with her against his will. To add insult to injury, she asks the poor queen in the memorable lyric whether Her Exalted Highness had in fact had no occasion to learn the art of captivating the other sex.
Muthu Swami Deekshitaar, one of the divine Musical Trinity of South India, was a consummate yogi, interested mainly in spiritual pursuits and devotional music right from his childhood. His parents married him to an attractive young girl while he was still in his early teens or may be even while he was younger, I do not know for sure,It was the order of the days of yore, you see.. When he did not seem to evince as much interest in his young wife, as he did in matters spiritual and musical, his parents surmised that the perceived apathy could be because his young wife was a bit darker in complexion than usual.
I am surprised that they felt so, because, even from a very young age, he was wont to extoll darkness of countenance with as much fervor as for fairness in complexion. I know, because, I love his, notu swara based lyrics extolling the Goddess of Madurai, as ‘Syamalay Meenakshi’,, ( Meenakshi, The Dark One).He took fancy to compose the notu swaras in his teen age mimicking the western scales which I believe , he happened to come across from people working with the East India Company in Manali.
In their mistaken assumption, Dikshitar’s parents, it is said, prevailed on him to get himself another spouse, fairer in complexion, this time.
The eminent Karma Yogi that he was, I am sure Deekshitar must have fulfilled all his duties as a husband towards both his spouses without any bias, as ordained in the scriptures.
The great Telugu bard, Annamacharya who lived a few centuries earlier to Deekshitar, also had two wives. It was the order of the times, you see, about five hundred years ago. There were famines and pestilences to which the weaker sex, I mean the males, did not have as much immunity as their counterparts of the fairer sex had. So the women of the time had had to share their hard-to-get spouses with a few others of their ilk, willy nilly.
This historical fact was exploited to the hilt, by the great Telugu movie director, K. Raghavendra Rao, in contriving a number of romantic and frolicsome scenes enacted with great gusto and panache by the threesome, Nagarjuna ( as Annamayya) and Ramya Krishna and Kasturi (as his buxom and beautiful spouses), when he made the hit Telugu movie Annamayya.
Sri Raghavendra Rao, richly deserves the B.N.Reddy National Award 2009 received by him from the Chief Minister, on the Ugadi Day, at the Nandi Awards Function on Fri day evening last.
P.s. : I wrote this post a few days ago. Today as I was googling idly, I came across a post dated September 06, by one Lalita Mukherji of Kolkata on her blog lalitalarking.blogspot.com. To my great surprise , the said post entitled , ‘ The Other Woman”, featured not just the Monkhouse limerick but also the poem of the courtesan in the Vijaya Raghava Nayaka’s court Rangajamma.
While on the subject I recollect another extempore poem, ( Chatuvu in Telugu,) by Srinatha, Kavi Sarwabhouma, the monarch of poets.
The poem was written while Srinatha was in the traditionally draught-affected Palnadu region.
On a hot summer day, thirsty for a drop of water, Srinatha pleads desperately with Lord Siva to make do with just one spouse and leave His second wife,the devine river Ganga to thirsty mortals like him, arguing that it was okay for One with Money ( Godess Lakshmi is the spouse of Lord Vishnu) to have sixteen thousand nubile consorts, but not so for one who begged for his food, ( reference to Siva
being The Lord of The Universe who is still regarded as the Primeval Yogi who begs for food.)
The Telugu lyric,
” Siri gala vaniki chellunu tarunulu padiyaruvelu taga pendladan. Tiripemuna kiddarandra Paramesa Ganga vidumu Parvathi chalun.”
Ireeverent as always, that is Srinatha, for you.