On the Buddha in verse
Some interesting reads in Kannada
Buddha Kavya Darshana
by Buddanna Hingamire
Yugadhwani Prakashana, Rs. 300
Buddha Kavya Darshana, the latest work of noted author and recipient of the Honorary Award for 2004 of the Karnataka Sahitya Academy Dr. Buddanna Hingamire, is an epic in lyric form in Kannada on the Buddha's life and his message. It's billed the first-ever attempt of this kind in Kannada. Also a scholar in Russian, Hingamire has written a book on his visit to Russia earlier.
Buddha Kavya Darshana is divided into 32 chapters, each related to different facets of the Buddha's life all the way till attainment of Nirvana. The hallmark of the book is the simple narration of events in the Buddha's life in a succinct, poetic style. It's also significant that Hingamire's epic is that he has employed the colloquial Kannada style.
Hingamire's lyrical epic is based on Ashwaghosh's Buddhacharite, hailed as a great work on both its poetic and philosophical merit, Edward Arnold's The Light of Asia, Herman Hesse's Siddhartha, Belgarian play Nibban and Rabindranath Tagore's Geetanjali.
As Hingamire's says in the foreword to his book, the Buddha's life has inspired many literatures in Kannada. It was probably his critical approach to the Vedas, Upanishads and the very notion of God which has inspired them. He cites Yashodhara, a sonnet by Masti Venkatesh Iyengar, and a very well-known poem by Da.Ra. Bendre which speaks of how the Buddha woke up (literally and metaphorically) when the rest of the world slept.
Know your mantra
Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Stotra (with commentary)
by J.P. Lakshmidevi
Sri Gayatri Printers, Rs. 75
Almost every Hindu is familiar with the Vishnu Sahasranama, considered the "mantra raja". Chanting the numerous names of the Lord is a daily ritual in many households. But how many know the meaning of each of those names? Most do not even attempt to know. But they must, because mantras shower benefits only when the persons chanting them fully understand what the words mean.
All the great acharyas of yore had commented on the greatness of Vishnu Sahasranama. Adi Sankara had written a commentary saying that the Sahasranama bestowed all noble virtues on those who chanted it. Parasara Bhatta had said that it absolved people of all sins and had no equal. Acharya Madhva had said that the Sahasranama was the essence of the Mahabharatha which in turn was the essence of the Shastras and that each word of the Sahasranama had 100 meanings.
J.P. Lakshmidevi, well known for her gamakas and poems, has attempted to give one meaning to each of the names of the Lord. She has drawn heavily from the bhashya of Adi Sankara and the Advaitic interpretation is clearly evident. The meanings given are interesting to read.
What does Sharva mean? Or Shishteshtaha? Or Anivarthi?
Find out from the book.
S. VENKATESH BHAT
Leafing Through is a fortnightly column that features Kannada books. Publishers can send books to Friday Review, The Hindu, 19 & 21, Bhagwan Mahaveer Road, Bangalore 560001
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