While growing up in India, I chose French in school over Sanskrit. Twenty years later, my niece made the same choice despite me persuading her not to.
Why does an Indian kid with little chance of living in France choose French over his/her native language? Perhaps, we’ve been conditioned from the British raj days with the belief that anything western was better than Indian. So it didn’t matter to me if the french kids themselves were learning English but I had to take French to show a foreign language as my skillset. Ironically, I learnt the value of pride in my own culture after moving to the west.
This lack of schooling in Sanskrit is a deep regret because I cannot access a vast set of Indian literature that truly connects me to my past. Plus, I cannot enjoy spoken Sanskrit too — it is a mellifluous language where it seems that every word is meant to take you into trance. Try MS. Subbalakshmi for focus.
So how is the above rant related to the “ode to a warrior”?
I recently watched one of the biggest Telugu/Bollywood blockbuster from 2017 (Baahubali/2 — on Netflix) which is somewhat over-the-top in the Lord of the Ring genre of movies and I loved it.
This movie has a song where the hero is attempting to do something beyond mere mortals. There is an interplay of the description of a warrior within the context of a romantic song. The description of the warrior is done in Sanskrit while the romantic song is in Hindi/Telugu based on the version.
I fell in love with the Sanskrit lyrics but I had no idea what they mean. I had to google them and hence back to my regret of not being fluent in Sanskrit to enjoy it. So here are the verses:
Dhivaara, prasara shourya bhaara
O perseverant one, your bravery is taking you forward
Uthsara, sthira gambheera
You leap higher and higher, firm, stable and determined
Ugrama, asama shourya bhaava
You are strong and without an equal in the ability to fight
Roudrama, nava bheetirma
Your anger causes new fear in your foes
Vijita ripu rudhira dhaara, kalitara shikhara kathora
Scaling impossible peaks, your blood flows like a rivulet
Kulakutara kulita gambheera, jaya virat veera
Your sturdy body itself is a sharp weapon because of his determination to win. Hail this complete hero of the world.
Vilaya gagana tala bheekara, gharjjhadvaara haraa
The hero is destructive in the air/sky as well because he can leap at an enemy from a great height. He can defeat the enemy simply with his fearsome roar of war.
Hridaya rasa kaasaara, vijita madhu paara haara
The emotion of victory makes you soft hearted after having the wine of victory. The hero is now about to complete the ascent of the mountain.
Bhayagaram shava, vibhava sindhu
You are the killer of fear with form of Shiva and Shakti and an ocean of wealth
Supara dhangam, bharana randhi
Now that the battle is over where Shiva has helped him win, a feeling of calm comes over him
(translation from Kumar Narasimha)
I urge you to take 5 minutes to watch this video which is both an audio and a visual delight where the hero is pulled towards his goal. Loved it!