Thursday, July 30, 2015

ಪುರಾಣಮಿತ್ಯೇವ ಸಾಧು ಕಿಂಚಿತ್ - ೪

The popular ಗಾದೆ "ವೇದ ಸುಳ್ಳಾದರೂ ಗಾದೆ ಸುಳ್ಳಾಗೊಲ್ಲ" emphasises the fact that greater value must be placed on experience than received wisdom. In addition, it introduces an unnecessary coupling between the Vedas and random utterances that have found their way into popular consciousness. Proverbs are pithy - they impart a great deal of information in very few words. The older a culture, the greater the number of proverbs it generates. Kannada, thus, has a ridiculously large corpus of profound, hilarious, obscene and wise sayings and it fell to pastor Hermann Mögling to collect as many of them as he could into a collection published in 1852.

Mögling is another great man confined to the periphery of Kannada popular culture but he is at least remembered here, unlike in his native Germany. Arriving in Karnataka with fellow missionary Samuel Hebich, he acquired sufficient proficiency in the local language to read its great classics and gain enthusiasm to publish them. The Basel Mission, who sent him and Hebich and a subsequent preacher called Ferdinand Kittel, reports that the proselytisation efforts of the German missionaries were meeting with polite attention in Dharwad, but unfortunately not with great success. One can almost imagine the characters from Shrinivas Vaidya's "ಹಳ್ಳ ಬಂತು ಹಳ್ಳ" staring in quiet bemusement at the strangely-accented new men in Navalgund and muttering snidely to each other. In any case, being a heathen unto the heathens seems soon to have become Mögling's focus and he invested a great deal of time in it. Apart from starting the first ever Kannada newspaper (ಮಂಗಳೂರು ಸಮಾಚಾರ), with sections such as ರಾಜ್ಯ ವರ್ತಮಾನಗಳು and ನೂತನವಾದ ಆಶ್ಚರ್ಯ ಸುದ್ದಿಗಳು (Na Kasturi's sarcastic headline "ಪಾಲೆಸ್ತೀನದಲ್ಲಿ ಹೆಂಗಸೊಬ್ಬಳು ಮೂರು ಮಕ್ಕಳನ್ನು ಹೆತ್ತು ಮೂರನ್ನೂ ತಾನೇ ತಿಂದಳು" would probably find place in this section), Mögling also published several ancient and medieval works. Particular debt is owed to him for publishing the ತೊರವೆ ರಾಮಾಯಣ, for it is said that this work informed the great MuddaNa's sensibilities while composing his series of works based on the Ramayana. Mögling also had another impact on MuddaNa's life, and thus on modern Kannada literature. He it was that recommended Ferdinand Kittel's name to the British for the task of compiling a Kannada-English dictionary. Kittel went on to publish, among other important works, Keshiraja's 'ಶಬ್ದಮಣಿದರ್ಪಣ', a copy of which MuddaNa is said to have possessed and practically memorised and used to good effect in his works (for more, please read the book about MuddaNa by V Seetaramaiah, Shrinivas Havanur and Ramachandra Uchil, available also on Google Play Books).

Hermann Mögling could not have gone about his work in Kannada had it not been for a gentleman who appeared in a prior installment of this series. James Archibald Casamajor, resident of Travancore  (when Swati Tirunal reigned) & Mysore and arbiter during the troubles of Kodagu under Chikka Veera Rajendra, retired to the Nilgiris and was leading a comfortable life when he was approached by the German for funds. Despite not speaking Kannada, Casamajor was moved by Mögling's sincerity of purpose and agreed to finance the project of going around 'the Canarese country and collecting good manuscripts' (see the article 'Herr Kannada'). The result of this project was the "Bibliotheca Carnataca" published between 1848 and 1853, which contained, among other works, Bhimakavi's 'Basava Purana' and Kanakadasa's 'Haribhaktisaara'. Mögling, in the same years, also undertook the task of compiling 3547 Kannada proverbs known at the time and published them under the title "ಕನ್ನಡ ಗಾದೆಗಳು". One manuscript of that work was what I happened to lay my hands on recently.

How neat the bow, how tidy the wrapping. Although the packaging might be more recent, the pages are the ones put out by the Basel Mission in 1852. As is made clear here:

In place of a preface is a short poem that might have been written by Mögling himself. It is written in the form of a cry by Knowledge herself to mankind, to heed her words and the truths she speaks:

I suspect the hand that inscribed these words was Mögling's because there is a strange usage of case declension here. Instead of the ದ್ವಿತೀಯ, the ಚತುರ್ಥಿ is used in the line: 'ಪುರುಷರೇ ನಿಮಗೆ ಕರೆಯುತ್ತೇನೆ'. A person born into and raised with Kannada would not have made this error; it had to be one new to the language. This is not to diminish Mögling's achievement in any way, it is merely an observation. The poem itself is very nice, as you may judge for yourself:

ಬುದ್ಧಿಯು ಕರೆಯುತ್ತಾಳಲ್ಲವೋ, ತಿಳುವಳಿಕೆಯ ಶಬ್ದವನ್ನೆತ್ತುತ್ತಾಳಲ್ಲವೋ, ಉನ್ನತಾಗ್ರಗಳಲ್ಲಿಯೂ ಮಾರ್ಗದ ಬಳಿಯಲ್ಲಿಯೂ ಮನೆಯ ಮುಂದೆಯೂ ಅಡ್ಡಹಾದಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿಯೂ ನಿಲ್ಲುತ್ತಾಳೆ -- ದ್ವಾರಗಳ ಕಡೆಯಲ್ಲಿಯೂ ಪಟ್ಟಣದ ಬಾಯಿಯಲ್ಲಿಯೂ ಬಾಗಲುಗಳ ಪ್ರವೇಶದಲ್ಲಿಯೂ ಕೂಗುತ್ತಾಳೆ -- ಪುರುಷರೇ ನಿಮಗೆ ಕರೆಯುತ್ತೇನೆ, ನನ್ನ ಶಬ್ದವು ಮನುಷ್ಯರ ಮಕ್ಕಳಿಗೆ ಶೇರಲಿ. ಮೂಢರೇ ಯುಕ್ತಿಯನ್ನು ಕಲಿತುಕೊಳ್ಳಿರಿ. ಹುಚ್ಚರೇ ಹೃದಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಗ್ರಹಿಕೆಯನ್ನು ಹೊಂದಿರಿ. ಕೇಳಿರಿ. ಯಾಕಂದರೆ ಪ್ರಕಟವಾದವುಗಳನ್ನು ನುಡಿಯುವೆನು, ನೀಟಾದವುಗಳಿಗಾಗಿ ನನ್ನ ತುಟಿಗಳನ್ನು ಬಿಚ್ಚುವೆನು.

Another slight giveaway is the phrase 'ಯುಕ್ತಿಯನ್ನು ಕಲಿತುಕೊಳ್ಳಿರಿ', Typically, you attain wisdom, not learn it, so it should have been ಯುಕ್ತಿಯನ್ನು ಹೊಂದಿರಿ/ಪಡೆಯಿರಿ. Mögling must have translated something related to knowledge and learning from German to English and then to Kannada. Note also the infernal "ಶೇರಲಿ" instead of "ಸೇರಲಿ".

Some proverbs are available for viewing here (and some others are here) but I will recount a few choice ones below. Proverbs reflect human thought and wisdom arising from commonly experienced situations. However, some from the Mögling collection leave the reader befuddled about the situation that might have provoked their genesis. Some others are obvious while some are bizarre.

There is the Newtonian "ಏರಿದವ ಇಳಿದಾನು", a comment about the rise and fall of fortunes. Continuing with the physics theme, another one seems to be about ductility or malleability: ಅಗಲವಾದದ್ದು ಹರಿಯುವುದು, ಉದ್ದವಾದದ್ದು ಮುರಿಯುವುದು. A telling comment on the importance of taking bold steps: "ಅಂಬೆಗಾಲಿಕ್ಕಿದರೆ ರಂಭೆ ಸಿಕ್ಕ್ಯಾಳೆ?" Caution about not giving up the larger goal when faced with small gains, and not giving up when facing troubles: "ಅಟ್ಟ ಸ್ವರ್ಗವಲ್ಲ, ಘಟ್ಟ ಮೇರುವಲ್ಲ". A profound comment about the state of the world vis-a-vis the power of the rich over the poor: "ಅರಸು ಯಾರಿಗಪ್ಪ, ಸೂಳೆ ಯಾರಿಗವ್ವ?" Sarcastic thanks offered to the three-eyed Destroyer: "ಇದ್ದ ಮಕ್ಕಳಿಗೆ ಕೂಳಿಲ್ಲ, ಮತ್ತೊಂದು ಕೊಡೋ ಶಿವರಾಯ". Picking precisely the wrong person for a job: "ಕುರುಬನ ಮಂದೆ ತೋಳ ಕಾದ ಹಾಗೆ".

There are some inclusions in the collection that are pointless or obvious or barely make an effort to mask the truth they seek to reveal to the world:
ಅಂತ್ಯವಿಲ್ಲದ ಕಡೆಯಿಲ್ಲ, ಆದಿಯಿಲ್ಲದ ಆರಂಭವಿಲ್ಲ.
ಆ ಬೆಕ್ಕಲ್ಲ ಈ ಬೆಕ್ಕು.
ಈತನ ಮಾತಿಗೆ ಆತ ಸೋತ.
ನಂಜಿಗೆ ಮದ್ದಿಲ್ಲ, ಬಂಜಿಗೆ ಮಕ್ಕಳಿಲ್ಲ.
ಬಂಜೇಲಿ ತೊಟ್ಟಿಲಿಲ್ಲ, ಸಂಜೇಲಿ ಸೂರ್ಯ ಇಲ್ಲ.
 ನಾಲಿಗೆ ಇಲ್ಲದವನು ನಾರಾಯಣ ಎಂದಾನೇ?

Caste, religion and regionalism being such important factors in Indian society, proverbs are no more immune to them than are people. So the following make their presence felt:
ಅಂತ್ಯಜನಲ್ಲಿ ಮೆಂತ್ಯ ಕದ್ದ ಹಾಗೆ.
ಹಾರುವನಿಗೆ ಆಳಾಗಬೇಡ, ಗಾಣಿಗನಿಗೆ ಎತ್ತಾಗಬೇಡ.
ತುರುಕರ ಸಂಗ ಎಂದಿಗಾದರೂ ಭಂಗ.
ಕೊಂಕುಳಲ್ಲಿ ಕುರು ಸಲ್ಲ, ಕೊಂಕಣಿಗರ ನೆರೆ ಸಲ್ಲ.
ತಿಗುಳ ತಾ ಕೆಡುತ್ತ ಏಳು ನೆರೆ ಕೆಡಿಸಿದ.
ಬೌಧನಾದರೂ ಬುದ್ಧಿಯಿರಬೇಕು.
ಜಾತಿ ತಪ್ಪಿದರೂ ನೀತಿ ತಪ್ಪಬಾರದು.
ಕುಲಕ್ಕೆ ತಕ್ಕ ಬುದ್ಧಿ, ಆಹಾರಕ್ಕೆ ತಕ್ಕ ಲದ್ದಿ.
ಕುಲಗೋತ್ರಕ್ಕೆ ಕಡಿಮೆಯಾದರೂ ಮಲಮೂತ್ರಕ್ಕೆ ಕಡಿಮೆಯಿಲ್ಲ.

All that talk about urine and shit provides a handy segue into the rich area below the belt. Urine is used to make a point about freedom of choice: ಉಚ್ಚೆ ಕುಡಿದರೂ ತನ್ನಿಚ್ಛೆ ಲೇಸು. The same urine is used to make a lipstick-on-a-pig sort of point: ಉಚ್ಚೆ ಕುಡೀಲಿಕ್ಕೆ ಉಪ್ಪು ಕೇಳಿದ. A short journey thence brings us to the posterior or the ಕುಂಡೆ/ಕುಂಡಿ/ತಿಕ. This area has been mined for some valuable content:
Size doesn't matter: ಕುಂಡೆ ಬೆಳೆದರೆ ಗೌಡನಾದಾನೆ?
The importance of the right solution for a problem: ಕುಂಡೆ ಮೇಲೆ ಬಡಿದರೆ ದವಡೆ ಹಲ್ಲು ಉದುರೀತೇ? and ಮಂಡೆ ನೋತಕ್ಕೆ ಕುಂಡೆಗೆ ಲೇಪವೇ?
What idle hands can do: ಕೆಲಸವಿಲ್ಲದ ಬಡಗಿ ಮಕ್ಕಳ ತಿಕ ಕೆತ್ತಿದ.
Abject despair: ಮಂಡೆ ಬೋಳು, ಕುಂಡೆ ಬೆತ್ತಲೆ.
The importance of not killing monkeys, I suppose: ಮಂಗನ ಕೊಂದು ಮೈಗೆಲ್ಲ ಹೇಲು.

Finally, we come to the most cruelly hilarious section of the book: proverbs involving ಮುಂಡೆs. There seems to have been special relish felt by the makers of these, considering how uninhibitedly they lash out with no allowance made to the husbandless loneliness of their subjects. Laughing at some of these proverbs is like laughing at this joke: "What did the handless, legless, blind boy get for Christmas? Cancer."
ಅಂಡೆಯೊಳಗಣ ನೀರು ಮುಂಡೆಯೊಳಗಣ ಹಣ ಸಮ.
ಆನೆ ಚಾಕರನ ಹೆಂಡತಿ ಆರು ತಿಂಗಳಿಗೆ ಮುಂಡೆ, ಕುದುರೆ ಚಾಕರನ ಹೆಂಡತಿ ದಿನದಿನಕ್ಕೂ ಮುಂಡೆ, ದಂಡಿಗೆ ಹೋದವನ ಹೆಂಡತಿ ಎಲ್ಲಿದ್ದರೂ ಮುಂಡೆ.
ಕಂಡಕಂಡವರಿಗೆಲ್ಲ ಹಲ್ಲು ಕಿರಿದರೂ ಗಂಡಸತ್ತ ಮುಂಡೆಗೆ ಬೋಳಿಸದೇ ಬಿಡರು.
ಗಂಡುಮಕ್ಕಳಿಲ್ಲದ ಮುಂಡೆ ಮನಸ್ಸು ಗುಂಡಿಗಿಂತ ಗಟ್ಟಿ.
ಗಂಡ ಸತ್ತ ಮೇಲೆ ಮುಂಡೆಗೆ ಬುದ್ಧಿ ಬಂತು.
ಮುಂಡೆಗೆ ಮುಂಡೆ ಕಂಡರೆ ಉಂಡಷ್ಟು ಸಂತೋಷ.

These two have to just be random snatches of conversation that Mögling overheard and included as proverbs:
ಈರಾರು ಹನ್ನೆರಡೆಂದರೆ ನಾರೋ ಮುಂಡೆ ಹೋಗಂದ.
ಉಂಡಿಯೇನೋ ಗುಂಡಭಟ್ಟ? ಹೌದು ಕಾಣೇ ರಂಡೆ ಮುಂಡೆ.

Carried away by the spirit of things, I might as well add two of my submissions to the corpus of Kannada proverbs:
ಬೇದಿಯಾದಾಗ ಹುರಿಗಡಲೆ ತಿಂದರಂತೆ.
ಸಾಲ ತೊಗೊಂಡು ಮೋಡ ಅಡ ಇಟ್ಟ ಹಾಗೆ.

Hermann Mögling is today all but forgotten in his homeland Germany and remembered only barely in his karmabhoomi of Karnataka. This pioneer deserves our thanks, recognition and much more.


Bharathi said...

Late Herr Gosling, deserves our sincere appreciation and so do you.

About the poem in the introduction being the German's, yes, I felt the same too, it did feel like he thought in German and wrote in Kannada.

Despite your choice of gaades dealing with the bodily parts and functions and the predilections of widows, this collection(or at least a part of it) is a snapshot of the Kannada culture of those times and therefore may I hesitatingly also suggest that Veda Sulladaru Gaade nu Sullagabahudu?

I found your twin additions to the corpus hilarious. Well done and keep those posts coming.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back... had been a gap.. Thank you for nice post Mr. Sharma...

M N Gujr said...

Dear Mr Sharma

We are researching bios of Mr Mogling and Rev Kittel. found very interesting info in your blog. can you pls share your contact number and mail id to meet in person and discuss to, Thx in advance.