Thursday, July 23, 2015

ಪುರಾಣಮಿತ್ಯೇವ ಸಾಧು ಕಿಂಚಿತ್ - ೩

Of the many Veerashaiva poets who festoon the Kannada literary landscape, the most important one about whom students learn the least is probably Nijaguna Shivayogi. This is said to be the man who inspired Muppina 'ತಿರುಕನೊಬ್ಬನೂರ ಮುಂದೆ ಮುರುಕು ಧರ್ಮಶಾಲೆಯಲ್ಲಿ...' Shadakshari and Shishunala Shareefa. Shivayogi's backstory, whatever little I know of it, is compelling too. He was the king (or lord or chieftain) of a tiny principality somewhere on the banks of the Kaveri, in the 15th century. He realises the truth that worldly riches and fortune are but fleeting and unsatisfactory and begins meditating on the Eternal Truth in a cave. He emerges a devotee of Shiva, and goes on to compose great works in Kannada. Among the most famous of these is the Viveka Chintamani.

This is an encyclopaedia containing information about a wide range of subjects like music, dance, dramatics, erotics and poetry. As such, there is a theory abroad that Someshwara's 'Mānasollāsa', the 12th century Sanskrit work that is similar in theme and scope, inspired the Viveka Chintamani. In any case, Shivayogi's magnum opus is ambitious in reach. Like any ancient/medieval Indian literary work, the 'original' is lost in the mists of time but several manuscripts of it survive. I chanced upon one which, despite careful preservation, had been eaten through in several locations, leading to a loss of meaning. This manuscript had 140 folios written on both sides. The box containing the folios had some of that typical imperial British writing:

"No 39
Vivaka Chintaumony - A general selection of the Hindoo mythology, translated into the Canad language"
3 Dec 1833

A Canadiga, and a Hindoo at that, is revealed to be the owner of this particular manuscript by the opening folios. And he has come by it by way of inheritance, it seems.

"೧೭೩೩ ರವುದ್ರಿ ಸಂವತ್ಸರದ...ವೆಂಕಟಬೋರೈಯ್ಯ ದುಬಾಷಿಯವರಿಗೆ -- "

If we may stop here for a moment, the ... (ellipsis) there indicate the place on the manuscript where a hole has been made either by time or by insects. Another aspect that puzzled me is the year and the samvatsara mentioned. If we take it to be 1733 AD, it should have been the PramAdin samvatsara. However, if it is the Shalivahana Saka year, it works out to be 1811 AD, which is the PrajApati samvatsara. If we consider it a mistake (writo?), that 1733 was put down instead of 1833, it should still have been the Vijaya samvatsara. A curious detail indeed. Onward, regardless.

"೧೭೩೩ ರವುದ್ರಿ ಸಂವತ್ಸರದ...ವೆಂಕಟಬೋರೈಯ್ಯ ದುಬಾಷಿಯವರಿಗೆ ರಾರಾವಿ(?) ವೋದಿಸುವ ಸಿದ್ಧಲಿಂಗೈಯ್ಯನ ಪುತ್ರ ಗಂಗಾಧರೈಯ್ಯನು ಬರಕೊಟ್ಟ ಕ್ರಮವೆಂತೆಂದೊಡೆ ಯಿದಿತನ(?)ದಲ್ಲಿ ನಿಂಮಗೆ ತಂಮ್ಮ ನ್ಯಾಯಾರ್ಜಿತವಾದ ವಿವೆಕಚಿಂತ್ತಾಮಣಿ ಪುಸ್ತಕ ಕೊ...ನಾವು...ಯಿಪ್ಪತ್ತು ರುಪ್ಪೈಯ್ಯಗಳು ಸಂಬಾವನೆ ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದ ಕಾರಣ ಯಿದಿವನ ಆ ತಂಮ(?)...ನಿಂಮದು ಯೆಂಬುದಾನಿ ಸಾಕ್ಷಿಗಳ ಮುಖಾಂತ್ರದಲ್ಲಿ ಬರಸಿ ಕೊಟ್ಟ ರಸಿದಿ ರುಜು.

ಸಾಕ್ಷಿಗಳು: ನರಶಿಂಹಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಿಗಳು, ಗೋಪಾಲಾಚರ್ಯ್ಯರು, ಸಾಕಿನ ಗಂಗಾವತಿ, ಸಾಕಿನ ರಾಯದುರ್ಗ್ಗ - ಯಿವರ ಮುಖಾಂತ್ರದಲ್ಲಿ ರಾರಾವಿ(?) ವೋದಿಸುವ ಗಂಗಾಧರೈಯ್ಯನ ಸ್ವಹಸ್ತ..."

The ? indicates difficult-to-decipher writing. There seems to have been an exchange of the book and twenty rupees between the two-language-knowing Venkataborayya and Gangadharayya (son of Siddhalingayya) and this is attested to by four witnesses. So we may owe a debt of thanks to Dubashi Venkataborayya for this manuscript somehow making its way to the East India Company and being preserved well. It isn't clear whether the "Saakina" in those witnesses' names means those people were adopted as children.

Note the occasional occurrence of ಶ in place of ಸ. This feature was also seen in the circa 1700 AD "ವಡೆರಪಟ್ಟು" genealogy of the Mysore Wodeyars and even in the 1826-1833 letters of Chikka Veera Rajendra. It isn't clear when this habit dwindled in practice - some old Mysoreans still say ಶೀ (with a nasal twang) in place of ಸಿಹಿ, so it's not completely dead yet. Good thing, though, that this strange usage has passed out of favour.

But wait, Shivayogi has begun.

"ಶ್ರೀ ವಿರೂಪಾಕ್ಷಲಿಂಗಯಂನ್ನಮಃ, ಶ್ರೀ ಸಂಬಸದಾಶಿವಾಯಂನ್ನಮಃ, ಶ್ರೀ ಅಸಂಖ್ಯಾತ ಪ್ರಮಥ ಗುಣಂ(?)ಗಳ ಪಾದಾರವಿಂದವೆ ಗತಿ"

Standard salutational start. I heard it somewhere that it is only MuddaNa's late-19th century work "ಶ್ರೀ ರಾಮಾಶ್ವಮೇಧಂ" that, despite being a devotional/religious text, begins in a non-devotional manner; so Shivayogi beginning in this manner is to be expected. We notice here that the deergha is optionally used - it is neither completely omitted, like in the ವಡೆರಪಟ್ಟು nor always used like in today's Kannada. Additionally, there are random samyuktaksharas and anuswaaras sprayed around: the book is referred to by itself as ವಿವೇಕಚಿಂತ್ತಾಮಣಿ, and uses ನಿಂಮಗೆ and ತಂಮ್ಮ, to no added benefit other than mildly annoying the reader.

Shivayogi mentions that he explains the magic of the world and its existence in Kannada to benefit listeners:

"ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ಸ್ಥಿತಿಗತಿಗಳಾವ ಪ್ರಕಾರದಿಂದಿಹವೆಂದರೆ...ಲ್ಲೀಲೆಯೆಂದರಿದು ಕ್ರುತಾರ್ತ್ಥರಾಗಿರೆಂದು ನಿಜಗುಣಶಿವಯೋಗಿ ಬೆಳುಗಂನ್ನಡಮಾದವಚನರಚನೆಗಳಿಂ ವಿವೇಕಚಿಂತ್ತಾಮಣಿಯೆಂಬ ಪ್ರಕಾರಣಮಂ ಪೇಳ್ವನದೆಂತೆಂದೊಡೇ..."

Some sentences from the work:
"ಪ್ರವರ್ತ್ಥನೆ ಕೇಳ್ವರ ಚಿತ್ತಸ್ವಸ್ಥತೆಗಳೆಂಬಾ ಫಲತ್ರಯಶಿದ್ಧಮೆಂದು ನಿರ್ಧರಿಸಿ...ಸರ್ವಜ್ಞತ್ವ ಸರ್ವ್ವಕರ್ತ್ರುತ್ವ ಸಪೂತನಾದ ಪರಮೇಶ್ವರ ಪ್ರಣಿತತ್ವದಿಂ..."

"ಅಪೂರ್ವಮೆಂಬ ಪೆಸರಿಂ ಸಂಸ್ಕರಿಸಿ ಬರುವಾ ಗುಣಂಗಳೊಳಗೆ ಮೊದಲು ಧರ್ಮ್ಮಾದಿ ಚತುಷ್ಠವೆ ಸಾತ್ವಿಕಂಗಳು, ಮಿಕ್ಕ ಅಧರ್ಮಾದಿ ತ್ರಯವೆ ತಾಮಸಂಗಳು...ವೈರಾಗ್ಯಮೊಂದೆ ರಾಜಸಮಕ್ಕುಂ..."

"ಅಧರ್ಮ್ಮದಿಂ ಭೋಗ ಶಕ್ತ್ಯಾದಿಗಳು, ಅಜ್ಞಾನದಿಂ ತಿರಸ್ಕಾರಾದಿಗಳು, ಅನೈಶ್ವರ್ಯದಿಂ ವಿಘ್ನಾದಿಗಳುಂ, ಅವೈರಾಗ್ಗ್ಯದಿಂ ಜನ್ಮಾಂತ್ತರಂಗಳಕ್ಕುಂ..."

The Kannada Pustaka Pradhikara has published the Viveka Chintamani, so interested readers may purchase a copy from them (or Sapna Book House, if they hold stocks). Or, if you wish to emblazon on your mind the sight of a common man's writing from a couple of centuries ago and feel his voice reach across time with the ease of Vamana stepping across the earth and the heavens, go to the British Library in London and read the folios.

1 comment:

Bharathi said...

Thank God for all the modifications and improvements that Kannada script has undergone over the years. Our Script is much more logical and easy on the eye and mind now.
Curiously I find that some ladies(My MIL, a paternal aunt and even a neighbour) did employ a script like this, these were the 4th/5th pass ones, but who belonging to educated families continued with reading through life, although their writing was limited to recording expenses, writing letters or copying down/writing down devotional songs. Their families on the other hand used the regular script. Wonder what explains this?