Monday, September 27, 2010

Samasya Poornam

Gouri cooks beef!
Samasya Pooranam is a good pastime for saMskRuta lovers. By the way, that’s how I transliterate the name of the language more well known as Sanskrit (among the people who do not know that language very well! ) . However I prefer to use the transliteration scheme I am more used to ; replace it with your favourite transliteration scheme, if you prefer, whenever you see this word.
samasyA pUraNam literally means completing a riddle. You are given a sentence that does not make sense. Or one that seems very odd. Now you have to add a few lines to make it meaningful. Of course, I am not competent enough in saMskRuta , to do this. But I can at least appreciate the beauty of it!
There are a number of such samasyA pUraNa shlOkas. They go back t0 at least 10-15 centuries. The most famous might be “kamalE kamalOtpattiH” – Lotus born out of a lotus – (कमले कमलोत्पत्तिः) attributed to the famed poet kAlidAsa. Anyone who knows the name of kAlidAsa, probably knows this. And of course, whoever has seen our dear “annAvru” – Dr Rajkumar in the kannaDa movie ‘kaviratna kALidAsa’ can definitely recall this.
Here is the solution for this – said to have been given by kALidAsa.
kamalE kamalOtpattiH shrUyatE na cha dRushyatE
bAlE tava mukhAMbhOjE dRushyamindIvara dvayam!
कमले कमलोत्पत्तिः श्रूयते न च दृश्यते
बाले तव मुखाम्बोजे दृश्यमिंदीवर द्वयम्!
In simple English, this would be:
Who ever said you can’t see a lotus born of a lotus?
Oh girl, when there are two lotus eyes in your lotus face!
Actually there are several such samasyA pooraNa shlOkas supposed to have been solved by kALidAsa. But I suspect, most of them are the works of some other witty poets – not necessarily of kALidAsa. Another couple attributed to kALidAsa end with almost meaningless lines.
The first one reads : ”ka kha ga gha” – क ख ग घ. While it seems too be devoid of any information to get a solution, here is one.
kA tvam bAlA?
kasyA putrI?
kA tvA hastE
pATI patram
kA vA lEkhA?
ka kha ga gha.
का त्वम् बाला?
कस्याः पुत्री?
का त्वाम् हस्ते?
पाटी पत्रम्.
का वा लेखा?
क ख ग घ.
This is a conversation between an adult, and a school going child.
Who are you, Oh child?
My name is Kanchana mala.
Who is your mother?
Kanakalata is her name.
What is in your hand?
A slate to write.
What did you write in there?
ka kha ga gha.
The other is one that ends with even more meaningless “ThA Tham Tha Tham Tham Tha Tha Tham Tha Tam ThaH ” ( ठा ठं ठ ठं ठं ठ ठ ठं ठ ठं ठः) . The solution is of course, very ingenious.
raamaabhishEke jalamaaharanthyaH
hasthaachchyutho hEmaghaTo yuvathyaaH
sOpaanamAsAdya karOthi Sabdam
ThA Tham Tha Tham Tham Tha Tha Tham Tha Tam ThaH
रामाभिषेके जलमाहरान्त्याः
हस्ताच्य्तो हेमघटो युवत्याः
सोपानमासाद्य करोति शब्दम्
ठा ठं ठ ठं ठं ठ ठ ठं ठ ठं ठः
While bringing water for the coronation of Sri Rama,
The golden pot falling from the hands of those girls,
On the steps on the riverbank, made this sound:
ThA Tham Tha Tham Tham Tha Tha Tham Tha Tam ThaH!
See how cleverly the meaningless line has been used to create a very nice sounding solution!
Many of these riddles have multiple, equally nice solutions. Let me move on from centuries old stuff to a more contemporary one, with multiple solutions. Dr Ganesh is a well known shatavadhAni. Samasya pooraNa is a part of shatAvadhAna. In one of the avadhAna sessions, he was given this one to solve.
gaurI pacati gOmAMsam
गौरी पचति गोमांसम्
gouri cooks beef.
Ridiculous? Sacrilageous? Not after you see the solution I bet !
Here is the solution given by Dr Ganesh
pancamO jArajO yatra pauSAsak tatra sarvadA
gaurI pacati gOmAMsam gaurO bhunktE bhubhukShitaH
पञ्चमो जारजो यत्र पौशासक् तत्र सर्वदा
गौरी पचति गोमांसम् गौरो भुङ्क्ते भुभुक्षितः
When King George the 5th ruled
The white lady (the queen) cooks beef.
The white man (husband) eats what she cooks!
If you know saMskRuta, you can not but miss the pun on the words panchama and jAraja
In avadhAna, the person asking the question has to have an answer too. This was the answer proposed by the questioner (पृछ्चक) Sudheer.
gouDI tu pacati mInam drAviDI pacati shAkam
gourI pacati gOmAmsam nUnam lOkO bhinnaruciH
गौडी तु पचति मीनम् द्राविडी पचति शाकम्
गौरी पचति गोमांसम् नूनं लोको भिन्नरुचिः
The woman from gouDa (present bengal) cooks fish;
The woman from south cooks vegetables.
The white woman cooks beef.
It is true that tastes differ.
See how both the answers wittily use the literal meaning of the word गौरी (gourI), to mean the white woman, rather than the commonly understood meaning as Parvati, the wife of Shiva.
When I was discussing this with a few of my friends, they came up with some more impressive solutions:
trilOkajananI kA bhO? sUpakRt kim karOti bhO?
kim khAdanti turuShkAH bhO? gaurI pacati gOmAmsam
त्रिलोकजननी का भो? सूपक्ऱ्त् किम् करोति भो?
किम् खादन्ति तुरुष्काः भो? गौरी पचति गोमाम्सम्.
Who is the mother of three worlds?
What does a cook do ?
What to muslims eat?
gourI; Cooks; Beef.
This solution takes the form of 3 questions, followed by the answers to the questions in the last line, a commonly used technique in samasyA pooraNa. Also, this takes the common meaning of the word gourI.
Here is another very contemporary solution, proposed by another friend if mine!
mama gEhasamIpasthE mekDonAlD bhOjanAlayE|
gaurI pachati gOmAMsaM kRuShNastaM bhakShayiShyati||
मम गेहसमीपस्थे मॆक्डॊनाल्ड् भोजनालये|
गौरी पचति गोमांसं कृष्णस्तं भक्षयिष्यति||
At the McDonad’s, near my house,
a white woman cooks beef, and a black man eats it!
Note the clever use of words गौरी to mean white woman and कृष्ण as black man.
I can go on and on, but let me stop before you yawn