Thursday, August 30, 2007

You Are Free... You're Not...

Years ago, when I had fancied myself to be a right-winger and slightly authoritarian, I took an online test that assessed my political inclination. I was a little surprised at the results. I was a right-winger, but so much to the center that it did not matter; and I was a libertarian!

I am all for law and order and discipline. People need a physically, mentally and spiritually safe place to live. But it is wrong for anybody to assume that to make other people feel good, one has to keep bending over backwards and accede to every wish of the other party. This is true in all cases, whether it is the case of travelers in a train shutting up because a co-traveler takes unkindly to their conversation, or the case of Vande Mataram not being sung in schools because a certain group of people is not comfortable with it. A compromise has to be worked out, but it is a crime against oneself if he/she genuinely believes that others matter more than oneself.

I am a huge fan of Ayn Rand and her philosophy. I believe that one exists and needs to exist for oneself only. Even if we avow that we are doing something to please somebody, finally it is our own gratification that will result out of it. Indeed, the line "आत्मनस्तु कामाय सर्वं प्रियं भवति" from the BrihadAraNyakopaniShat can be construed to mean that. And to take it further, if an action brings unhappiness to oneself, it is wrong. Oh, yes, you will be called 'selfish' if you ascribe to this philosophy, but in the end you will end up being much better, and of much value to the society.

I know I am treading controversial ground here. For eons, we have been taught to be accommodating. But how right is it to ask people to give up their comforts for others' sake? Consider this scenario. Suppose I am a pianist, and a writer lives next-door. The writer complained everytime I started playing the piano? Should I give in each and every time and let him write? In some situations it is easy to draw a solid line and say that it is trespassing on the liberty of the other person if that line is crossed. Al Qaeda's recent statement that it is their legitimate right to attack Delhi and Moscow, belongs to this category. In umpteen other situations, very fine lines divide liberty from lawlessness and discipline from oppression.

During the French Revolution, the oppressed lower classes of the society revolted against the aristocracy, and put many of their oppressors to death by guillotine. The royal family, aristocrats and supporters of the aristocrats alike were killed. But the revolters became bloodthirsty after that and started killing for flimsy reasons (the whole revolution is superbly described by Charles Dickens in 'A Tale of Two Cities'). What started out as a fight for liberty became lawlessness and chaos. And I think that the reason for this was the failure to see liberty as it was, as a right as well as a responsibility.

As with all things, liberty also comes with certain costs and some responsibilities. As one becomes more and more independent, far less people tend to guide him. He is on his own, and must rely on his own experience to wade through the ocean of life. And of course, he should be responsible enough to not topple others' boats while enjoying his swim. And it will be better for others, if he takes up the additional responsibility of helping others sail, if not swim like him...

Really, are we free?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

ಕೆಟ್ಟ, ಕೆಡುತ್ತಿರುವ ಕನ್ನಡ

ಇತ್ತೀಚೆಗೆ ಮಿತ್ರರೊಬ್ಬರು ನನ್ನನ್ನು ಕೇಳಿದರು "ಏನ್ರಿ, 'ಸಾಫ್ಟ್‌ವೇರ್' ಗೆ ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಏನು ಹೇಳ್ತಾರೆ?" ಎಂದು. ನಾನು "ತಂತ್ರಾಂಶ" ಎಂದು ಉತ್ತರಿಸಿದೆ. ಅವರು ಎರಡು ಕ್ಷಣ ಯೋಚಿಸಿ "'ಅಭಿಯಂತ' ಎಂದರೆ ಇಂಜಿನಿಯರ್ ಅಲ್ಲವೇನ್ರಿ?" ಎಂದು ಕೇಳಿದರು. ಹೌದೆಂದೆ. ಆಗ ಅವರು "ಹಾಗಿದ್ದರೆ ನನ್ನ ವೃತ್ತಿಯನ್ನು 'ತಂತ್ರಾಂಶ-ಅಭಿಯಂತ' ಎಂದು ನಮೂದಿಸಬಹುದೆ?" ಎಂದು ಕೇಳಿದರು. ನಾನು ಅವಾಕ್ಕಾದೆ.

ಕನ್ನಡಭಾಷೆ ಬಹಳ ಸೊಗಸಾದ, ಮುದ್ದಾದ ಭಾಷೆ. ಆದರೆ ಇತ್ತೀಚೆಗೆ ಕೇಳಿಬರುತ್ತಿರುವ ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಸೊಗಸು ಕಾಣಿಸುತ್ತಿಲ್ಲ. ವಾರ್ತಾಪತ್ರಿಕೆಗಳಲ್ಲಾಗಲಿ, ದೂರದರ್ಶನದಲ್ಲಾಗಲಿ ಕಾಣ/ಕೇಳಿಬರುವ ಕನ್ನಡ ಬಹಳ ಸಲ ಸಹನಶೀಲೆಯಾದ ಕನ್ನಡ-ತಾಯಿಗೇ ಅಳು ಬರಿಸುವಂತಿರುತ್ತದೆ.

ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತ ಮತ್ತು ಕನ್ನಡಪದಗಳನ್ನು ಸೇರಿಸಿ ಮಾಡುವ ಸಮಾಸ ಅರಿಸಮಾಸ. ಕುಮಾರವ್ಯಾಸನ ಭಾರತದಲ್ಲಿ ಅಲ್ಲಲ್ಲಿ ಅರಿಸಮಾಸಗಳ ಪ್ರಯೋಗವಿದೆ ಎಂದು ಕೇಳಿದ್ದೇನೆ. ಪ್ರತಿದಿನ ಬೆಳಗಿನ ಪತ್ರಿಕೆಯನ್ನು ತೆಗೆದು ಎರಡು ನಿಮಿಷ ಓದಿದರೆ ಹೊಸ ಹೊಸ ಅರಿಸಮಾಸಗಳು ಕಣ್ಣಿಗೆ ರಾಚುತ್ತವೆ. ಕುಮಾರವ್ಯಾಸ ಅರಿಸಮಾಸಗಳನ್ನು ಮಾಡಿದ ಎಂಬುದನ್ನೇ ಪ್ರಮಾಣವಾಗಿಟ್ಟುಕೊಂಡು ಸಿಕ್ಕ ಸಿಕ್ಕ ಪದಗಳೆಲ್ಲಕ್ಕೂ ಸಮಾಸ ಮಾಡಲು ಹೊರಟರೆ ಸರಿಯೇ? 'ಸದ್ಬಳಕೆ', 'ಸಂಪರ್ಕ-ಕೊಂಡಿ' - ಒಂದೇ ಎರಡೇ? ಇವು ವ್ಯಾಕರಣರೀತ್ಯಾ ಅಶುದ್ಧವಷ್ಟೇ ಅಲ್ಲ, ಕೇಳಲು ಸಹ ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿಲ್ಲ. ಕೇಳಲಾದರೂ ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿದ್ದರೆ ಒಪ್ಪಿಕೊಳ್ಳಬಹುದೇನೋ...

ಸಮಾಸಗಳದೊಂದಾದರೆ ಮತ್ತೊಂದು ವಿಶೇಷಣಗಳದ್ದು. ಅನೇಕರ ಬರೆಹಗಳಲ್ಲಿ "ಬುದ್ಧಿಮಾಂದ್ಯ ಮಕ್ಕಳು" ಎಂಬ ಪದಪುಂಜ ಕಾಣುತ್ತದೆ. ಮಂದ ಬುದ್ಧಿ ಇರುವವರು ಬುದ್ಧಿಮಂದರು. ಬುದ್ಧಿಮಂದರ ಭಾವ ಬುದ್ಧಿಮಾಂದ್ಯ. ಹೀಗೆ ಬುದ್ಧಿಮಾಂದ್ಯ ಒಂದು ನಾಮಪದ. ಈ ಪದ "ಮಕ್ಕಳು" ಎಂಬ ಪದಕ್ಕೆ ವಿಶೇಷಣವಾಗಲು ಹೇಗೆ ಸಾಧ್ಯ? ಪ್ರೊ. ಜಿ. ವೆಂಕಟಸುಬ್ಬಯ್ಯನವರು 'ಅಂಗವಿಕಲ' ಎಂಬ ಪದಕ್ಕೆ ಬದಲಾಗಿ 'ವಿಕಲಚೇತನ' ಎಂಬ ಪದವನ್ನು ಸೂಚಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಹಾಗೆ ಸೂಚಿಸಿದಾಗ ಅವರು ಪ್ರಾಯಃ ಅನ್ಯಮನಸ್ಕರಾಗಿದ್ದರೇನೋ. 'ಅಂಗವಿಕಲ'ರ ಅಂಗ(ಗಳು) ಮಾತ್ರ ವಿಕಲ. ಆದರೆ ವಿಕಲಚೇತನರ ಮನಸ್ಸು-ಬುದ್ಧಿ-ಆತ್ಮಗಳೇ ವಿಕಲ!(ಚೇತನ = soul , mind L. ; n.consciousness , understanding , sense , intelligence) ಆಂಗ್ಲದ 'differently abled' ಎಂಬ ಅರ್ಥ ತರಲು ಹೋಗಿ ಇದು ಎಂತಹ ಆಭಾಸವಾಯಿತು! ಕನ್ನಡದ ಎಲ್ಲ ಪತ್ರಿಕೆಗಳಲ್ಲಿಯೂ ಈ ಪದಗಳು ರಾರಾಜಿಸುತ್ತವೆ ಎಂಬುದು ದುಃಖದ ಸಂಗತಿ.

ಇದೇ ತೆರನಾದ ಮತ್ತೊಂದು ಸಮಸ್ಯೆ "ಪ್ರಾಧಾನ್ಯತೆ", "ನೈಪುಣ್ಯತೆ" ಮುಂತಾದ "ತೆ" ಗಳದ್ದು. ಪ್ರಧಾನನ ಭಾವ ಪ್ರಾಧಾನ್ಯ, ನಿಪುಣನ(ಳ) ಭಾವ ನೈಪುಣ್ಯ. 'ಪ್ರಧಾನ' ಮತ್ತು 'ನಿಪುಣ' ಎಂಬ ಪದಗಳಿಗೆ 'ತೆ' ಎಂಬ ಪ್ರತ್ಯಯ ಸೇರಿಸಿ ಪ್ರಧಾನತೆ ಮತ್ತು ನಿಪುಣತೆ ಎಂದು ಬೇಕಾದರೆ ಹೇಳಬಹುದು. ಈ ಪ್ರಯೋಗದಲ್ಲಿ ವಿಶೇಷಣಗಳಾದ ಪ್ರಧಾನ ಮತ್ತು ನಿಪುಣ ಎಂಬ ಪದಗಳು ನಾಮಪದಗಳಾಗುತ್ತವೆ. ಈಗ ಈ ಪದಗಳಿಗೆ - ಉದಾ. ಪ್ರಾಧಾನ್ಯ ಎಂಬ ಪದಕ್ಕೆ "ತೆ" ಎಂಬ ಪ್ರತ್ಯಯ ಸೇರಿಸಿದರೆ "ಪ್ರಧಾನನ ಭಾವದ ಭಾವ" ಎಂಬ ಅರ್ಥ ಉಂಟಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. 'ನೈಪುಣ್ಯತೆ' ಕೂಡ ಹಾಗೆಯೇ. ಇದನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥೈಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವ ನನ್ನ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನ ವಿಫಲವಾಗಿ ಇದನ್ನು ಅಪಶಬ್ದಗಳ ಗುಂಪಿಗೆ ಸೇರಿಸಿದ್ದೇನೆ. ನೀವೇನಂತೀರಿ?

ಇನ್ನು ಜಾಹೀರಾತುಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಕೇಳಿಬರುವ ಕನ್ನಡದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ. ಹಿಂದೆ ಉತ್ಪನ್ನಗಳು ಕಡಿಮೆ ಇದ್ದುದರಿಂದಲೋ ಏನೋ, ಜಾಹೀರಾತುಗಳು ಕಡಿಮೆ ಇರುತ್ತಿದ್ದವು. ಅಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಯೋಗಿಸಿದ ಭಾಷೆ ಕೂಡ ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿರುತ್ತಿತ್ತು. "ನನ್ನ ನಲ್ಲನ ಹೊಲದಲ್ಲಿ..." ಎಂಬ ರೇಡಿಯೊ-ದ ಜಾಹೀರಾತಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಶಬ್ದಾಲಂಕಾರವೂ ಕಾಣುತ್ತದೆ. ಆ ಜಾಹೀರಾತುಗಳ ದರ್ಜೆ ಅದು. ಆದರೆ ಇಂದು? ಪುನಃ-ಚಿತ್ರೀಕರಣ ದುಬಾರಿಯಾದುದರಿಂದ ಹಿಂದಿಯಲ್ಲೋ ತಮಿಳಿನಲ್ಲೋ ಇರುವ ಜಾಹೀರಾತನ್ನು ಡಬ್ ಮಾಡಲಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ನಮ್ಮವರು ಅದೇ ರಾಗಗಳಿಗೆ ತಮ್ಮ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯವನ್ನು ಜೋಡಿಸಿ ಅದನ್ನು ಪ್ರದರ್ಶಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಕನ್ನಡದಂತೆ ಒತ್ತಕ್ಷರಗಳು ಹಿಂದಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಇಲ್ಲವಾದ್ದರಿಂದ ಈ ಜಾಹೀರಾತುಗಳು ಕರ್ಣಕಠೋರವಾಗಿರುತ್ತವೆ. ಅದೇ ಸಂಗೀತವನ್ನು ಇಟ್ಟುಕೊಂಡು ಇನ್ನೂ ಚೆನ್ನಾದ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯವನ್ನು ಅಳವಡಿಸಿ ಹಾಡಲು ಸಾಧ್ಯವಿದೆ. ಉದಾಹರಣೆಗೆ "ಬೆಸೆದಿರಲಿ... ಜೀವನದಾ-ಸಂಪರ್ಕ ಕೊಂಡಿ" ಎಂಬುದನ್ನು 'ಬೆಸೆದಿರಲಿ ಜೀವನದ ಮಧುರ ಬಾಂಧವ್ಯ.." ಎಂಬುದಾಗಿಯೋ, ಅಥವಾ ಇನ್ನೂ ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿರುವ ಪದಗಳನ್ನು ಬಳಸಿ ಹಾಡಲು ಸಾಧ್ಯವಿಲ್ಲವೇ? ಈ ಕೆಲಸ ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಕಷ್ಟ, ಆದರೂ ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿರುವ ಸೊಗಸನ್ನು ಉಳಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಅಷ್ಟಾದರೂ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನ ಪಡಬಹುದು ಎಂದು ನನ್ನ ಭಾವನೆ.

ಇತ್ತೀಚೆಗೆ ಒಬ್ಬ ಹಿರಿಯರು ಸಖೇದರಾಗಿ "ಕನ್ನಡದ ಆಯುಷ್ಯ ಇನ್ನು ಎಪ್ಪತ್ತು-ಎಂಭತ್ತು ವರ್ಷಗಳಷ್ಟು ಮಾತ್ರ ಎಂದು ಅನ್ನಿಸುತ್ತದೆ" ಎಂದು ಹೇಳಿದರು. ಈಗಿನ ಕನ್ನಡದ ಪರಿಸ್ಥಿತಿ ನೋಡಿದರೆ ಅವರು ಹೇಳಿದ್ದು ನಿಜವೆಂದೇ ಅನ್ನಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ನಮ್ಮ ಪ್ರೀತಿಯ ಕನ್ನಡನುಡಿಯ ಆಯುಷ್ಯವನ್ನು ಹೆಚ್ಚಿಸಲು ನಾವೇನು ಮಾಡಬಹುದು?

ಇದನ್ನೂ ಓದಿ:
Random ramblings: ಎಷ್ಟು ದಿವಸಗಳಾದವು ಬರೆದು!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Drums and Camphor, Rice and ...

I was eating a peaceful lunch in the lunch room today, talking about mundane things that afflict employees everywhere. It was then that I heard the sound of drums beating in a simple rhythm. I did not give much thought to it, until the drum-beating crowd sounded like they had made a stop right in front of our office. I walked to the window to see what it was. There was an open lorry, with the icon of a Goddess, bedecked with jewels and adorned with flowers. A couple of people were holding umbrellas above Her head. I thought that it was the traditional aarati, and I was instantly reminded of my days in Madras. Every now and then, processions of Gods used to be taken on our road. There used to be naagaswaram playing beautifully. The house-fronts would be cleaned, and adorned with rangolis. We used to take camphor, fruit and coconuts and perform pooja. But this procession wasn't just that.

There was a water tank leading the lorry. God's path has to be clean, so these guys had ingeniously brought a tank along, with its faucet open. Drums were beating loudly and rhythmically. A couple of youngsters were dancing and looked like they were drunk. A man spread banana leaves side by side on the ground, right in front of the lorry. A couple of women served rice and some more dishes on them. A girl removed agarbattis from the wrapper, handed them to the chief priestess (?) and threw the wrapper on the roadside. I remained watching, mainly to see whether these guys would clean up as they left. On hindsight, I think that was too much of an expectation.

Agarbattis were burnt. Camphor was lit. There was real devotion and seriousness on the faces of the people standing around the lorry. The drum-beating then reached a feverish tempo. Two sheep were dragged in front of the lorry. That was the limit for me. I could not stomach it anymore. I just walked back to my seat. A while later, the beating of the drums stopped.

I have spent quite some time in small and large towns of Karnataka. Every year, in B__, there used to be the annual festival of the Mother Goddess, and animal sacrifice used to be a regular part of the proceedings. I do not know if it continues, though. During my tenth standard I lived in H___, another town. And exactly before my exams, cholera broke out. The folks there thought that it was because the Mother Goddess was angry. Therefore, to propitiate her, a festival was organized. Some thirty buffaloes, a lot of sheep and innumerable chicken were sacrificed. The devotees were not at all worried about cholera spreading even more because of their unhygenic practices.

Is there a law that bans animal sacrifice? Yes!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Hair = extension of the umbilical cord?

Little Biyadiya is one person I want to write about all the time, but I check myself. I am not comfortable about writing about someone that close. But I really could not keep myself from writing this one.

I have always felt a pang whenever he crossed one of his milestones. When he started solids, when I first left him at home and went out for a couple of hours, when he wanted to hold his cup of milk himself while drinking... The most recent one was cropping his hair.

His chaula was performed way back in April, when we had gotten a small amount of hair removed. I was postponing the real haircut, partly because I liked the look and the sweet smell of his dishevelled hair in the morning and partly because he would become a big boy after the haircut. But maintenance of his hair was becoming a big problem with him refusing to let us comb and tie them into a ponytail. So, his first haircut happpened yesterday.

Yesterday was an Independence day of a different sort for him. His head and face now look larger. And I confess that I preferred the old look better. And I want to confess that I might not oppose if he chose to have shoulder-length hair in future, as a youth, really!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sacrifice vs. Righteousness

Concern for fellow-beings sets apart sajjanas from others. As a Sanskrit proverb goes,
मृदुलं नवनीतमीरितं नवनीतादपि सज्जनस्य हृत् ।
यदिदं द्रवते स्वतापनात् परतापात् सतां पुनः ॥
"Butter is said to be soft, but the sajjana's heart is softer. Butter melts only when it is heated, but the heart of the sajjana melts (even) when others are in

Years ago, there was a very short story in the Kannada magazine, Mayura (I think). The protagonist was a poet, very poor but large-hearted man, like the sajjana in the above shloka. His child was ill, and the whole family was clothed in rags. Our poet was at the end of his wits. At this juncture, he received an unexpected sum of money as a fee (as far as I remember). Then there was a knock on his door. A poor man had come to ask him for help; he wanted to get his daughter married and did not have the money. Our poet gave him all the money he had, and he walked away happily. The poet then told his wife, "What could I do? I have a poet's heart!" ("ನಾನೇನು ಮಾಡಲಿ? ನನ್ನದು ಕವಿಹೃದಯ"). The wife accepted his decision.

Even back then, I had a question. How could the heart that melted at the plight of the poor man, not melt at the sight of his own sick child?

A few days ago, December Stud said in a comment, that all of us are selfish, or should at least be selfish to a certain degree. That struck me as being true, and I got thinking about the various stories of self-sacrifice that appear so often in our mythology and literature. I then realized that I have never liked the extreme self-sacrifice that is, as a rule, praised to the Heavens.

What Jimutavaahana did, was against dharma, in my opinion. As the king, his duty was to protect all his subjects, but he chose to protect Shankhachuda alone, because he was there at the right time and place. His sacrifice had a good result, in that Garuda stopped harming naagas any further, but suppose it had gone unnoticed? True, Jimutavahana was a vidyaadhara and a bodhisattva. But I think I would have had far more respect for him if he had fought and subdued Garuda like a true Kshatriya. (I did not like naagaanandam, the play written by Harsha, either... Well, that's the topic for a separate post).

We have a more realistic view of sacrifice and kshatriyadharma in the Mahabharata. When Kunti offered to send Bhima with the food for Bakasura, even Yudhishthira, the epitome of righteousness, did not approve of the act (as far as I remember). However, this had a good result too; Bhima killed Baka. What appealed to me here was the "down-to-earth-ness" of Yudhishthira.

Sometimes, the idea that self-sacrifice always brings about good results, is comforting. At other times it is disturbing. Finally, it all comes down to doing the right thing, and not just sacrificing. But just how can we decide if what we are doing is right?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Another poem for chitrakavana

ಈ ಬಾರಿಯ ಚಿತ್ರಕವನದ ಹದಿಮೂರನೆಯ ಚಿತ್ರಕ್ಕೆ ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತದಲ್ಲಿ ಒಂದು ಮುಕ್ತಕವನ್ನು ಬರೆದಿದ್ದೇನೆ.

वीथीतटेष्वुशितमस्तु सुरालये वा
चीनाम्बरं धरतु वाथ विदीर्णचीरम् ।
अश्नातु मृष्टमनिशं किल वा कुभैक्ष्यम्
माता सदैव सुतलालन एव तृप्ता ॥

ರಸ್ತೆಬದಿಯಲ್ಲಿರಲಿ, ಸುರರ ಮನೆಯಲ್ಲಿರಲಿ, ಚೀನಾಂಬರ ಧರಿಸಿರಲಿ, ಹರಿದುದನ್ನುಟ್ಟಿರಲಿ, ಮೃಷ್ಟಾನ್ನವುಣ್ಣಲಿ, ಭಿಕ್ಷೆಯನು ಭಕ್ಷಿಸಲಿ,
ತಾಯಿಗೆ ತೃಪ್ತಿ ಸಿಗುವುದು ಮಗುವಿನ ಲಾಲನೆಯಲ್ಲಿಯೇ ಅಲ್ಲವೇ!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

ಜೀವನಯಾತ್ರೆಯು ಸಾಗುತಿದೆ

ಚಿತ್ರಕವನಹನ್ನೆರಡನೆಯ ಚಿತ್ರಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಬರೆದ ಎರಡು ಮುಕ್ತಕಗಳು

ಜನ್ಮಜನ್ಮಗಳ ಸಹಚರರಿವರು
ಜೀವನಯಾತ್ರೆಯ ಪಯಣಿಗರು
ಬಾಳಿನ ಸಂಜೆಯ ಸೊಬಗ ಹೀರುವರು
ಜೊತೆಜೊತೆಯಾಗಿಯೆ ನಲಿಯುವರು

ಕಣ್ಣಲಿ ಸೋಡ ಇದ್ದರೇನಂತೆ
ಚೆಲುವು ನೋಡುವರ ಕಣ್ಣಲ್ಲಿ!
ಅವರ ಕಣ್ಣಿಗಿವರೆಂದೂ ತರುಣಿಯೆ,
ಇವರ ಕಣ್ಣಿಗವರೂ ತರುಣ!