Thursday, January 27, 2011

“the vast literature, the magnificent opulence, the majestic sciences, the great realized souls, the soul touching music, the awe inspiring gods….! It is already becoming clearer that a chapter which has a western beginning will have a to have an Indian ending if it is not to end in the self destruction of the human race. At this supremely dangerous moment in history the only way of salvation for mankind is the Indian way “ - Dr. Arnold Toynbee, British historian

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sri Bhagavan become transformed while relating incidents from his vast collection of stories and tales. On one occasion while describing Gautama's joy at Goddess Parvathi coming to his ashram, Sri Bhagvan could not go on, for tears filled his eyes and emotion choked his voice. Trying to hide his plight from others, he remarked, "I don't know how people who perform Harikathas explain such passages to audiences and manage to do it without breaking down. I suppose they must make thier hearts hard like stone before starting thier work."
- From Spiritual Stories as told by Ramana Maharshi

Sunday, January 23, 2011

In South India, the art of story telling is referred to as Kathakalakshepa, which is a Sanskrit term meaning, “Katha” - story, “kala” - time, and “kshepa” - throwing away. In total it means spending time listening to stories. Such performances are held in temples, weddings and other religious or social functions. This is a one-person theatre where the performer has to be versatile in the aspects of exposition, singing and histrionics, and be able to interestingly narrate humorous anecdotes as well. The storyteller is looked upon as a teacher who is a scholar in ancient texts in Sanskrit and other vernaculars. He interprets the religious and mythological texts of the past to the present and future generations.

In the various States of India there are three traditions of storytelling. The first is the Purana-Pravachana, which literally means, “expounding the Purana”. The Purana-Pravachana was narrated by the Pauranika, who was an expert in the exposition. Such expositions are solemn and serious.

The second tradition, Kathakalakshepa is unique because the story is carried through various songs and compositions in different Indian languages like Sanskrit, Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi, which is a peculiarity in the Tamilnadu-style of story telling.

The third is a folk art, prevalent in Andhra Pradesh (a State in South India), called Burrakatha. Burra is a drum that is shaped like a human skull (Burra means skull). In this tradition, gypsies narrate stories beating this drum. As referred to earlier, in Tamilnadu the folk story tradition is called Villu-pattu, viz., the bow-song.

Krteyadhyayato vishnum
Tretayam yajoto maghaihi
Dvapare paricaryayam
Kalautatu Harikeertanatu


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Another thing he sorely misses is the institution of the storyteller, once an integral part of valley life.

"The storyteller would regularly come to our home in the evening. All the village children would assemble in a room as the storyteller started his narrative of princes and fairies and the wooden horse that would fly carrying the prince charming to the far off land where he fought the demon to retrieve his lady love.

"Hot 'kehwa' with saffron to keep the story teller and the listeners awake during the long winter nights was a ritual I still remember vividly," Sheikh said, ruing the end of the charming tradition. - From 'Kashmir: Where have all the icicles and storytellers gone?'

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity toward metanarratives. This incredulity is undoubtedly a product of progress in the sciences: but that progress in turn presupposes it[...]The narrative function is losing its functors, its great hero, its great dangers, its great voyages, its great goal. It is being dispersed in clouds of narrative language elements—narrative, but also denotative, prescriptive, descriptive, and so on [...] Where, after the metanarratives, can legitimacy reside?

—Jean-Fran├žois Lyotard

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Goddess figures and feminine imagery appear in many of the world's religious traditions, but often such goddesses have fallen into eclipse and such imagery has become peripheral or subordinate to the masculine metaphors of the divine. This was not the fate of the feminine in India. From one standpoint, the history of the Hindu tradition can be characterised as a re-emergence of the feminine.

- C. Mackenzie Brown in 'The Triumph of the Goddess'.