Sri Ram Janam Bhoomi Prana Pratishta competition logo.jpg

Sri Ram Janam Bhoomi Prana Pratisha Article Competition winners

Rāmāyaṇa where ideology and arts meet narrative and historical context by Prof. Nalini Rao

Rāmāyaṇa tradition in northeast Bhārat by Virag Pachpore

User:N. Siva Senani

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

Born in '71, I was initially trained as an engineer and then as a manager. I worked in a steel plant, sold light bulbs and then cigarettes; sold and delivered IT solutions, Datacentre and other real estate space; somewhere in between raised some funds; and it continues thus. In 2003, I cut down my working time and learnt Sanskrit at the feet of Sriman Burugadda Narasimhacharyulu, retired Head of Dept. of Sanskrit, Osmania University, and then read for some time under the tutelage of Dr. B. V. L. Narayan Row, of the University of Wisconsin and the Central Institute for English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad at the Sura Bharati Samiti, Hyderabad. I returned to full time work in 2006. We (mother, wife, two kids) speak Telugu at home and lead, or at least try to lead, life the Hindu way.

There is a strong Indian tradition that unless there is something new or engaging to contribute, one ought not to write. This was more so because preservation of a text was a very difficult affair - first good quality lekhakas, writers, had to be engaged; then, the book so carefully transcribed had to be preserved from the elements, from insects and from misuse by any reader. After all this, one needed a teacher to read a text. Thus, we see that in the different fields - poetics, grammar, darsanas etc. - each subsequent work builds upon the earlier works, with minimum repetition. Based on that tradition, I ought not to write, because most of everything would be mere recycling of what has been said by giants.

However, the times have changed. Today, attention, not information is at a premium. I make my living by explaining things, clarifying, repeating, summarising and ensuring that intent is translated into action with minimum distortion. From that point of view, the traditional writing is somewhat demanding of the reader in that it presupposes 'sraddha'. One of the aspects of the definition of 'sraddha' is a complete belief in the teacher and the shastra. In other words, a sceptical or a cursory reading is forbidden. The modern and occidental writing is occasionally at the other extreme; sweeping statements are made without substantiation; generalisations abound; bold readings totally lose the context of the text, and so on. To give, but one example, the Sanskrit - English dictionary of Monier Williams is usually a very reliable reference; however, when it was written in 1890s, it was assumed that the word 'prana-pratishtha' was not in current usage at that time (this word is still used - in new temples and during pujas in every home). To be fair, this was included in a later appendix, but the example does reflect truly, the spirit in which the dictionary was composed. In general, most of the occidental writing lacks the intuitive understanding that an 'insider' or a practitioner brings. To strike a balance between these approaches is what I hope to achieve.

My key benefit would be that a re-presentation strengthens my own knowledge. If somebody understands at least one aspect, one concept, better, that would be enough reward for my labour. Any merit is that of my gurus, and learned persons whose discourses I have heard over the years; if I present anything incorrectly, the blame clearly is mine alone, for it means that I had not grasped what was taught correctly or that I was careless.