Dabangg 2: A Review

Rarely does one come across characters in Hindi cinema which make a mark in the minds of the audience by their mannerisms or dialogues. And when that happens it opens up a window of opportunity for a movie franchise in which you get to see those interesting characters in action again. However, not all opportunities translate into successes. For instance,  the combination of Munnabhai and Circuit was blessed by the audience as well as the critics, but harsher fate awaited Shyam, Raju and Babubhai from the “Hera Pheri” franchise.

Chulbul Pandey is one such character which has managed to draw the audience from their drawing rooms into the movie halls in recent times. The kind-hearted but corrupt cop sporting a pencil thin mustache, whose sunglasses hang from the back of his collar when he give a killer look was loved by the masses. The movie brought back the “good cop” genre and inspired a couple of similar movies where a police officer takes on some evil politician/zamindar. Ajay Devgn’s “Singham” and Akshay Kumar’s “Rowdy Rathore” are two examples of this. The success of Munni resulted in the audience being bombarded with other item numbers involving names such as Sheila, Chameli and Shalu. Dabangg, the first movie was a trend re-setter in this sense. It gave the single screen audiences something to cheer about. In times when everyone was making multi-starrers, the success of Dabangg breathed new life into the single-hero genre.

Dabangg 2 opens with a marquee of still-images from the first movie as the introductory credit rolls. The sequence where Chulbul Pandey is introduced is also very similar to the one in the first movie. In fact one of the characters says it aloud “Is baar sahab yahaan se nahin, peeche se aayenge”. And we see a police jeep break through a brick wall with Chulbul Pandey jumping out of it, grabbing hold of an iron chain to descend amidst the bad guys (the sanskrit term for this is avataraNa) and single handedly beat them to pulp. You might enjoy this scene appreciating the hat-tip to the first movie (and also The Matrix reloaded but we shall not go there). However, your enjoyment won’t last long when it dawns upon you that the entire movie is filled with such hat-tips which are not even subtle. The supporting cast which includes Vinod Khanna as Pandey’s father, Arbaaz Khan as the younger brother Mandbuddhi Makhhanlal Pandey, Mahi Gill in a blink-and-thou-shalt-miss role as his wife and the two constables who play Dubeyji and Tiwariji does a good job of what was expected of them – to ram these nostalgic moments into the minds of the audience. Sonakshi Sinha shines as Mrs Pandeyji in scenes when she’s not serving food or hanging clothes to dry. Those scenes include the two songs (“Dagabaaz re”, “Saanson Ne”) both of which are nicely pictured. Salman Khan does his usual thing. The common complaint I have with all these actors is that their portrayal appeared a bit lazy.

Now, any good movie which attempts to entertain the audience through the deification of the main character requires the presence of a strong negative character. In the first movie Chulbul’s father, Makhi ended up becoming unintentional villians who kept the tension alive for most part of the movie and the main antagonist Chedhi Singh played by Sonu Sood was brilliant. He was wacky, audacious and a perfect foil for Chulbul. In the second movie, with an actor like Prakash Raj (just check his roles in Wanted and Singham), you would expect something even better right ? This is where you experience the second let down. The character of Baccha Singh essayed by Prakash Raj is so forgettable that I thought I was suffering from Ghajni’s symptoms while watching his scenes. Unlike Chedhi Singh, Baccha Singh is neither funny, nor is he scary. He’s just a shadow of Jayakanth Shikre, except that it’s a shadow cast inside a dark room. The character is so poorly defined that the audience has no clue regarding what make him tick. There are a couple of sequences where he appeals to his brothers to use their brains instead of brawn to tackle Chulbul Pandey, but that’s just talk. We don’t see this translate into any strategising apart from the one scene where he calls a media conference to congratulate Chulbul Pandey for getting rid of a gangster who happened to be his brother. But nothing came out of this, since a couple of scenes later he just gives in to his other brother’s taunts and decides to clash with Chulbul Pandey head-on thereby announcing the climax of the movie. And the climax falls flat. There’s no build up. It was like watching the Australian innings in the finals of the 1999 world cup after Pakistan’s abysmal performance. Chulbul Pandey , as usual , enters the scene in his jeep on which probably more than hundreds of bullets are fired. As expected, nothing happens. He kicks open the jeep door and in a matter of minutes every body is lying on the ground. And as if justifying this sort of a “thanda” and a hurried ending, Chulbul Pandey says something to the effect of “If all the time is spent on goons like him, when will we get time to handle the others”. Dude! That’s an unforgivable excuse. We didn’t come to see a documentary on the number of villians who chauffeured into the hell by Chulbul Pandey but a larger than life clash between Chulbul Pandey and some ferociously evil character!

Another problem with the movie is the presence of too many songs, many of which are simply forced into the narrative. I’m sorry, but while “Munni Badnaam” was entertaining, the “Fevicol” song was outright crass. Some of my friends thought that the song was the only saving grace in the movie, but I beg to differ. No grace was saved anywhere in the movie.

The movie has a few entertaining moments, but nothing memorable. It seems that in one of the interviews Salman Khan said that if Dabangg 2 doesn’t work, then it’s an end of Arbaaz Khan as a director. It looks like that’s going to be the case. The movie might make it’s money, might even make it to “100-crore” club (it’s not an exclusive club any more), but I’ve seen even hard-core Salman Khan fans express their dissatisfaction with the movie.

Dabangg ended with a bang, but Dabangg 2 just quietly disappears from the view.

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Life of Pi: The movie

A ship sinks in the ocean. A boy survives the shipwreck and manages to safely reach the Mexican shore. When he’s found by the locals on the shore, he’s all alone, next to a small boat. Everyone is curious to know how did he manage to survive for that long (the book says 227 days). Chuck Noland (the character played by Tom Hanks in Cast Away) was also a survivor, but he waited on the land till he could find enough material to construct a raft before he entered the sea, sailing on that raft of hope. Hemingway’s old man might have survived the fight with the marlin in the the sea, but he was a fisherman who knew the waters as well as Shah Rukh Khan knows to spread his arms apart while professing love. But in our story, the boy Pi had neither the comfort of the shore, nor was he an expert sailor. And yet he survives.

A curious writer comes to Canada to meet a grown up Pi (played with elan by Irrfan Khan, who has emerged as default choice for Hollywood for playing characters of Indian origin) on the advice of Pi’s swimming teacher who promises the writer that Pi’s story will make him believe in God. Pi (short for Piscene Molitor Patel, named after a french swimming pool) makes no such promises, but narrates the story nevertheless.

The audience gets to see his younger days in Pondicherry amidst a strict, rationalist (and an atheist, but that goes without saying) father who’s a Zoo keeper and a botanist mother who is very religious. He describes his encounters with the three religions Hinduism, Christianity and Islam and how he manages to reconcile them and bring them under the umbrella of his belief. He narrates his encounter with the ferocious Richard Parker, the royal bengal tiger in his father’s zoo. Change in the town’s priorities forces his father to make a move to Canada with all their animals. While they are in the ocean on a Japanese cargo ship carrying the animals, a storm breaks out and the ship drowns along with most of its inmates. Pi survives in a small boat. The next day he realizes that he’s not alone on the boat. He tells the writer that along with him, there was a zebra which had broken it’s leg, an Orangutan which floated on a bunch of bananas before climbing the boat, and there was a hyena. What happens next, is anybody’s guess. The hyena first attacks the injured Zebra and kills it. Next, it comes for the Orangutan. The Orangutan fights back first, but the hyena’s next attack proves fatal. Pi, could do little to save either of them since he was busy saving himself by hanging on to the stern of the boat. And then, in one of the  best 3D-scenes I have seen so far, we see a tiger jump out from the part of the boat that was covered by a tarp onto the hyena to make short work of it. And after this, the two unlikely companions fight it out to survive in the middle of the ocean. Pi has to learn to show Richard Parker, the tiger that he is the boss around while also rationing his supply of biscuits and fresh water and writing his story to keep his mind occupied. The remainder of the film for most part focusses on this power struggle between the Pi and the tiger and how Pi finally manages to subdue the tiger. They weather a storm, a mysterious carnivorous island before they reach the Mexican shore. Once there,  Pi falls flat on the sand exhausted, but Richard parker leaps forward and enters the Mexican jungle. What disappoints Pi, and even breaks his heart was the fact that Richard Parker didn’t even look back (No Nana Patekar to say “palat”!). There were no formal goodbyes exchanged, no tears shed, not moment paused to mark the end of their momentous journey.  That, he say, left a void in his heart.

The Japanese shipping company which owned that unlucky ship wanted to know the cause for the shipwreck. When Pi narrates his story to the officials from the shipping company, they do not believe in it since there were elements in the story which were implausible. They ask him for a story that was more plausible. So Pi tells them another story: The one where he survived the shipwreck along with 3 other people. A sailor who had injured his leg, his own mother and the cook from the ship. He said that the cook was a savage who killed the injured sailor in the pretext of easing his pain. He used the meat from the dead sailor’s body to catch the fish. Then one day, he tried attacking Pi’s mother. She fought off the attack, but he came back and killed her. There was nothing Pi could do to save her. He brooded over her death. He was afraid for his own life. And then, he couldn’t control himself any longer. He killed the cook. He hated the cook, not because he was such a cruel man, but he brought out the cruelty in Pi which forced him to commit murder.

Thus, those Japanese officials, the writer and the audience have now been told two stories, neither of which can be verified, since there’s no other witness. We have to rely on our narrator who, we know may not be reliable. But both of stories provide an explanation for the time between the event when Pi survived the shipwreck and the event when he landed on the Mexican shore. Hence,  it was up to these people to make up their minds and decide for themselves which story they chose to believe in. When Pi asks the writer which story would he believe in, the writer picks the story with the tiger since that’s a better story. We see that even officials from the shipping company mention the the story with the tiger in their report. Pi just smiles and introduces the writer to his family and the credits begin to roll.

The film is a visual treat. The effects that you get to see as a part of Pi’s survival in the ocean are so much larger than life. In fact some of them border on realm of surrealism. Suraj Sharma does a fine job as the young Pi. The tiger which was digitally created is ferocious, but at the same time there are moments when you empathize with the beast. However, if the director intended to stay true to the premise of the book which was to make you believe in God, I have to say that he failed.  The final question which Pi asks the writer after narrating two stories  is also a question that’s posed to us, the audience. Which story would we believe in ? The one with elements of fantasy, hope, courage, or the other which showcases human brutality in the face of hardship?  The first one didn’t give us any chance to create a mental picture of what happened since the director did the job for us. The second one, we had a chance to do so. But in the case of the writer and those officials, they had to imagine both the events themselves based on Pi’s narration before they could make a choice.  The writer in the movie might have chosen to believe in the first one because Pi’s survival for 227 days was an extraordinary feat and the writer  might have wanted to associate the best aspects of humanity with this survival incident, instead of it’s worst face. However, when we are posed with the same question, the answer has been rigged for us by the director. There is no way we can answer this in a fair manner. For me, the scene were Pi asks the writer which story he believes in was the weakest scene in the whole movie since I felt detached when this scene played onscreen. This scene fell flat when it was supposed to be the scene which would make the audience think.

When I finished reading the book back in 2007, the thing that moved me was the thought that the tiger could be interpreted as the animal spirit which is present in each of us which emerges in the face of  hardships. In the context of Pi’s survival, the animal spirt was very much required,  but if it was not tamed, if it was not controlled, it could also wreak havoc on his personality. What if Pi did survive, but lost his innocence in the process, would he be the same person who survived the shipwreck ? Hence the greatness of the story is not that a boy survived, but that he survived while keeping the best part of him intact – his human aspects. His struggle with the tiger was his struggle with his own irrational animal spirit. That he succeeded to bring about a reconciliation between these two aspects of his personality is no accident, since even as a kid, he managed to successfully reconcile and incorporate aspects from three different religions into his belief system. Once they reached the shore, the animal spirit went back into the jungle (from whence it came) since it was no longer required. Pi felt disappointed since the spirit never looked back, and he could not say a formal goodbye. Perhaps not saying goodbye made Pi uncomfortable since it meant that the animal spirit could return anytime. What if his victory over it was just temporary? Thus there was lot of room for doubt, which as he says, keeps faith alive. When the officials chooses the story with the tiger over the other story, Pi says “and so it goes with God”. Because the stories involving God or the supernatural may not be plausible and there might be more realistic explanations. But are they as interesting? When no story can satisfactorily explain the reasons for our troubles,  just like how neither of two stories could explain what caused the shipwreck, why not believe in the more interesting one? This is what those officials from the Japanese shipping company did.

The reason why the book works so well is that it gives us ample opportunity to ponder on  the things that were hinted at but were left unsaid. These things were lot more fascinating than the details that were narrated. However, in the movie, we are so enamoured by the visual aspects that we miss out on these hinted at, but unsaid things. When the credits roll, the image that remains with us is that of the great blue whale diving out from the ocean floor that’s  beautifully lit up by the bioluminescent aquatic life. And it is as if the director hopes that this beautiful spectacle reminds us and makes us believe in the glory of God.

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American Gods

Last semester, I restarted reading fiction after a gap of two years. I managed to finish George R R Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” (the five books in the series that have been published so far) in a span of two months and thoroughly enjoyed it. I wanted to write a post on the series as soon as I finished it, but couldn’t get to doing that. Now, I think I’ll have to re-read some portions if I have to write about the series it, since apart from Tyrion’s brilliances and Arya’s adventures, I am unable to recollect the other finer aspects that I remember discussing with some of the readers of the series from my college. I don’t want “American Gods” to suffer the same fate. Hence this post!

American Gods, my first Neil Gaiman novel, is based on an interesting premise; that the Gods, or the manifestations of Gods exist because we believe in them. As opposed to the Biblical theme of “God made man in his own image”, in Gaiman’s book, it’s the men who make the gods (in their own image or otherwise) and they feed the gods through their faith, beliefs, offerings and sacrifices. Thus, some gods thrive while the others are forgotten and cast into the oblivion. When various settlers travelled to the new world, they brought along with them their beliefs and kept these beliefs alive by continuing the religious practices in the new land. Thus were born the american manifestations of the gods from all over the world. We meet an American Odin who likes to wear suits and swigs Jack Daniels (he might have as well called it John Daniels since he knows it quite well!) and doesn’t miss a chance to pull a con. We also encounter an Irish leprechaun named Mad Sweeney who (surprise!) can pull out gold coins from “the sun’s treasure hoard which is there in the moments when the world makes rainbow”, a trickster and a story teller named Mr Nancy, who likes his cigarillos as well as his stories, Kali who is called “mama-ji” by everyone (the “mama” part refers to mother here, and not uncle!), an American Loki, and several others. While these Gods do share the characteristics of the manifestations that were originally imagined by the people in their homelands, they have also developed distinct features that differentiate them from their original counterparts. In some sense, these features make them American. Similarly, in the older world there were places which were  “somehow special. [In these places] there was some focussing point, some channel, some window to Immanent. So they would build temples, or cathedrals, or erect stone circles.” However, in America even though every town and sometimes every block might have a church, they were as significant in this context as dentists offices. For in America,  such a special thing was felt in places where there were roadside attractions and amusement parks. And people felt pulled towards such places. And these are the places where American Gods hang out!

The audience is introduced to the story through a character who’s called Shadow (who was quite puny as a kid, but latter grew on to become a big man!) who has been released from prison after he served his term. When comes out of the jail, he realizes that he has lost everything that he once had. His wife was killed in a car accident the day before his release. She was in the car with his best friend (who was also his employer) who was also killed. Thus, with no family or job, when he sets off to go home to say his goodbyes, he meets Mr Wednesday who makes him an interesting  offer: an employment opportunity to serve him as his personal bodyguard for the mission that he is about to undertake. Wednesday seems to know everything about Shadow and also manages to turn up in places where Shadow wouldn’t expect him to. Shadow finally gives in and accepts Wednesday’s offer. In the course of time, he meets interesting characters including Mr Czernbog, the Zorya sisters, Mr Nancy, Mr Ibis, Mr Jacquel, Mr Hinzelmann among others. He realizes that all these are older gods who have now grown weaker since the people who imagined them, who brought them over to America, who believe in them and their stories have gradually decreased in numbers. And he also meets newer Gods such as the techno-kid, the media, the black-hats which have gotten empowered in very little time. While the old-gods, led by Mr Wednesday are worried for their survival, the newer gods have their own insecurities in the rapidly changing American landscape. And they all are fighting for a place in the minds and the hearts of the American people. Thus the stage is set for a epic showdown between the old and the new, the spiritual and the material, the good and the evil, or so it seems. Both sides are busy inducting new members into their camps in the view of of the imminent fight.  From time to time, Wednesday enlists Shadow’s help when he goes on these recruitment trips.

When he’s not on duty, Shadow is busy dealing with the ghosts from his past.  He has these weird visions and dreams that he keeps getting from time to time, but unfortunately make very little sense to him (or to us!). His employer Mr Wednesday plays his cards close to his chest and hence it’s not quite clear to him how he fit in the bigger picture. All these things are clarified towards the end when it become known why Shadow was chosen for the job in the first place.

Apart from these two story arcs, there are independent chapters which talk about how the gods might have arrived in America in the first place.
These include the stories about the arrival of the Gods from the Norse pantheon, the Pixies and the Leprechauns, Elegba and Mawu.

The “recruitment drive for the impending war” is an interesting framing device that gives the author ample scope to introduce us to the american manifestations of various Gods. I really enjoyed the portions where Gaiman introduces us to these american manifestations. However, I found Shadow’s portions to be a bit too slow since they were not really contributing much to the main arc nor to the final portion when the story arcs meet.  That said, I found Shadow’s dreams to be interesting and frightening at the same time. Some of them were so vivid that in fact I had nightmares involving some of those elements the night I read those portions. I liked the final portions of the book where we understand what triggered the showdown, the significance of the coin-tricks that Shadow keeps practicing throughout the book, and the thing that gives some gods their powers. We also get a hint about who Shadow might really be (since we are never told his “real” name anywhere in the book).

Regarding the Gods of Indian xorigin,  Kali (aka mama-ji) is the only deity who appears more than once in the story. I suspect that the only Indians whom Gaiman must have encountered in America must have been the bongs!!  We also get to see an elephant-headed pot-bellied God who rides on a mouse removes the obstacles, in one of Shadow’s hallucinations. There’s a passing reference to Kubera, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva in some place. Some speculate that the forgotten god that Wednesday and Shadow meet in Vegas is Budha or Mercury but Gaiman hasn’t commented on that one.

Final word: Interesting book which I would recommend if you like this kind of stuff. I would rate it at 3 on a scale of 5.


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Quotes: Programmers on MacOSX vs Programmers on Linux

A programmer will eventually tell you to use Mac OSX or Linux. If the programmer likes fonts and typography, they’ll tell you to get a Mac OSX computer. If they like control and have a huge beard, they’ll tell you to install Linux. Again, use whatever computer you have right now that works. All you need is gedit, a Terminal, and python.

– Zed A. Shaw,  Learn Python the hard way

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Griffith Ramayana: Balakanda: Canto 1

The first sarga of Balakanda begins with Valmiki questioning Narada  about the existence of a special kind of human being. He was inquisitive to know:

In all this world, I pray thee, who
Is virtuous, heroic, true?
Firm in his vows, of grateful mind,
To every creature good and kind ?
Bounteous, and holy, just and wise,
Alone most fair, to all men’s eyes?

Thus he began his question inquiring about the perfect human who was living amidst them at that point in time. The kind of qualities that Valmiki was expecting in such a person appear contradictory at the first glance. For example, he asks if such  a person was:

Devoid of envy, firm and sage,
Whose tranquil soul ne’er yields to rage ?
Whom, when his warrior wrath is high,
Do Gods embattled fear and fly ?

It wasn’t good enough for Valmiki if these qualities were present in some person, but were never put to any use! He was interesting to know about the person:

Whose noble might and gentle skill
The triple world can guard from ill?
Who is the best of princes, he
Who love his people’s good to see ?

A man who was blessed in so many ways that he was

The store of bliss, the living mine
Where brightest joys and virtues shine?
Queen Fortune’s best and dearest friend,
Whose steps her choicest gifts attend.

A man, who if made to stand alongside the high lords of the sky, they would be honoured. A man:

Who may with Sun and Moon compare,
With Indra, Vishnu, Fire and Air ?
Grant, Saint divine, the boon I ask,
For thee, I ween, an easy task,
To whom the power is given to know
If such a man breathe here below”

Narada muni, pleased with Valmiki’s question tells him that rare is a person in whom all these qualities can be found at once. But there is one such person, who goes by the name Rama, who is born in the famous Ikshvaku’s family and currently ruling the land of Ayodhya. As if to answer Valmiki’s question “Alone most fair, to all men’s eyes?”, Narada describes the physical appearance of Rama as follows:

Tall and broad shouldered, strong of limb,
Fortune has set her mark on him,
High destiny is clear impressed
On massive jaw and ample chest
Deep in the muscle, scarcely shown,
Embedded lies his collar bone,
His lordly steps are firm and free,
His strong arms reach below his knee,
And limbs in fair proportion set:
The manliest form e’er fashioned yet,
Graced with each high imperial mark,
His skin is soft and lustrous dark,
Large are his eyes that sweetly shine
With majesty almost divine.

And this man was well versed in the Vedas, was skilled in archery, was trained in arts and versed in law. At the same time, he was also

High souled and meet for happy fate,
Most tender and compassionate;
The noblest of all lordly overs,
Whom good men follow, as the rivers
Follow the King of Floods, the sea:
So liberal, so just is he.

And when it comes to Godliness, he was

The peer of Vishnu’s power and might,
And lovely as the Lord of Night
Patient as earth, but, roused to ire,
Fierce as the world-destroying fire;
In bounty like the Lord of Gold,
And Justice’ self in human mould.

However Narada doesn’t just stop at this enumeration of qualities of Rama, but also goes on to narrate the story that makes Rama so great. We shall see that story in the next post.

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“If teaching is reduced to mere data transmission, if there is no sharing of excitement and wonder, if teachers themselves are passive recipients of information and not creators of new ideas, what hope is there for their students? If adding fractions is to the teacher an arbitrary set of rules, and not the outcome of a creative process and the result of aesthetic choices and desires, then of course it will feel that way to the poor students.

Teaching is not about information. It’s about having an honest intellectual relationship with your students. It requires no method, no tools, and no training. Just the ability to be real. And if you can’t be real, then you have no right to inflict yourself upon innocent children.

In particular, you can’t teach teaching. Schools of education are a complete crock. Oh, you can take classes in early childhood development and whatnot, and you can be trained to use a blackboard “effectively” and to prepare an organized “lesson plan” (which, by the way, insures that your lesson will be planned, and therefore false), but you will never be a real teacher if you are unwilling to be a real person. Teaching means openness and honesty, an ability to share excitement, and a love of learning. Without these, all the education degrees in the world won’t help you, and with them they are completely unnecessary.

It’s perfectly simple. Students are not aliens. They respond to beauty and pattern, and are naturally curious like anyone else. Just talk to them! And more importantly, listen to them!”

– Paul Lockhart, “A Mathematician’s Lament”

Go read it all!

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Griffith Ramayana: Invocatory Verses

I mentioned in my previous post that I have been reading Ralph T.H Griffith’s translation of Ramayana in verse. I finished the Balakanda and am planning to write a summary of the interesting verses and events I encountered therein. This is the first post in that series.

Griffith begins with the invocatory verses in the praise of Valmiki.

Praise to Valmiki, bird of charming song
Who mounts on Poesy’s sublimest spray,
And sweetly sings with accent clear and, strong
Rama, aye Rama, in his deathless lay.

This corresponds to the popular verse that can be found in the Ramaraksha stotram

कूजन्तं राम रामेति मधुरं मधुरक्षरं  |
आरुह्य कविताशाखं वन्दे वाल्मीकि कोकिलं ||

I like the imagery in this next verse whose sanskrit equivalent I do not know:

The stream Ramayan leaves its sacred fount
The whole wide world from sin and stain to free
The Prince of Hermits is the parent mount
The lordly Rama is the darling sea.

One more nice invocatory verse, again in the praise of Valmiki is apparently a standard shloka that is recited before reciting Ramayana.

Glory to him whose fame is ever bright!
Glory to him, Prachetas’ holy son!
Whose pure lips quaff with ever new delight
The nectar-sea of deeds by Rama done.

I didn’t know the sanskrit equivalent of this verse until yesterday when my professor recited the following verse on seeing this translation:

यः पिबन् सततं रामचरितामृत  सागरं |
अतृप्तः तं मुनिं वन्दे प्राचेतसं अकल्मषं ||

Griffith has translated it rather well, since in the sanskrit verse, अतृप्तः must not be interpreted as “unsatisfied” since it makes no sense. Instead, it alludes to the fact that Valmiki never grow tired of drinking nectar from the ocean of Rama’s deeds.

One of my favourite mangala shlokas comes from Tulasidasa’s Ramacharitamanas.

सिताराम गुणग्राम पुन्यारण्य विहारिणौ |
वन्दे विशुद्ध विज्ञानौ  कवीष्वरकपीष्वरौ ||

I am not a poet and I very well know it. So, here’s a translation in my own words, fortunately it’s not in verse. Hope it’s not really that worse!

I salute both the king of hermits and  foremost among the vanaras! Blessed are these enlightened ones who had the good fortune to wander about in the enchanting woods of the glorious qualities of Sita-Rama!

In the next post, we shall see a few selected verses from the first canto of Balakanda where Narada narrates the summary of the events that occurred in Rama’s life in answer to Valmiki’s deep question about the ultimate man!

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