Current local: Feb. 24, 2017, 3:46 p.m.

Unidentified manuscript: Comment by Dave Dasgupta

From DDasgupta@iso.com Fri Nov 26 14:22:26 1999
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1999 18:51:43 -0400
From: "Dasgupta, Dave" <DDasgupta@iso.com>
To: "'D.Wujastyk AT ucl.ac.uk'" <D.Wujastyk AT ucl.ac.uk>
Cc: "'mrabe@artic.edu'" <mrabe@artic.edu>, "'annette@box.nl'" <annette@box.nl>
Subject: Unidentified Manuscript -- Jan. 1996

Dear Dr. Wujastyk:

(I should like to proffer) a different opinion on the truncated text on Prof. Michael Rabe's homepage.

I serendipitously landed on Prof. Rabe's homepage and read Annette van der Hoek's translation/interpretation of the following unidentified text:

 nirkhata ne(m)n bhaii cakacuu(m)dhii //52//
 pata pare c jha(m)khata mukha dekhyau//
 abe ruupa nakha sikha lo(m) pekhyau//
 upamaa(m) kahu(m) pata(m)tara kohuu(m)//
 sura nara naaga lo(m)ka mana mohuu(m)//
 badana kalaa nidhi puurana tarunii//
 upamaa(m) aura na kou baranii//

I agree in general with her translation and overall interpretation of it as a Biraha verse involving Krishna-Radha relationship; the disagreement is with the chronology and nature of the language.

The language of this excerpt is most certainly Maithili or, though less likely, an earlier variant of Maithili. Maithili is an "ancestor" of today's Hindi language. Maithili is closer in spirit, vocabulary and grammatical structure to Prakrit, itself a derivative of Sanskrit, than Hindi proper, which really flowered as a literary language with the great Bhakti poets (Tulsidas, Suradas, Kabir, Ramananda). Incidentally, Maithili is still spoken as a dialect (in a somewhat different form) of Hindi in the Mithila region in the state of Bihar.

I'd suggest the verse is written in proto-Maithili which flourished as a language in 12th-13th century, and whose most famous exponent was Vidyapati, the poet who wrote passionate amatory-religious verses glorifying Krishna and his divine "lila" with Radha and her Gopinis (milkmaids) -- Krishna 'plays' or 'sports' with them in the human dimension, but on a transcendental level, this is "divine sport" in which the devotee enjoys a loving relationship of devotion and submission to his or her Lord. Vidyapati also called his language "Braja-buli" (the language of Braja (modern Mathura and Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh) and was a major influence on the Bhakti movement and its poets three centuries later.

Here's the first verse of a Vidyapati poem -- an exhortation to Madhava (another name for Lord Krishna) for redeeming the supplicant from the sins of this world -- followed by a literal translation. You'd note the linguistic similarities between this verse and the Rabe excerpt -- both in vocabulary and lexical form. My point here is to show the overall similarity between the two passages, and nothing more than that. (I admit that, not being a trained scholar, my transcription is not as precise as it would have if done "by the book.")

 "Madhava, bohuto minoti karii toyuu.
 Deyi tulsi tila, e deha samarpiluu
 Daya jonu chhorobi moi.
 Gana-itey dosha guna, lesh nahi payobii
 Jab tuhu karabi bichhar......"  Translation:   "O Madhav, I beseech you much/
 With 'tulsi' (plant sacred to Krishna) and 'tila' (black seed used
in Hindu ritual offerings to the gods) offered to you, I
surrender my body to Thee/
 Praying that you will save me./
 As you count my vices and virtues, you'll see no end to them (i.e.,
they are so many as to be innumerable)/
 When you judge me....."

I'd appreciate the comments/opinions about my argument in favor of Maithili and an earlier timeframe for the excerpt from the scholars involved -- and also if my analogy/comparison with the Vidyapati verse validates my argument against Ms. van der Hoek's position.

Thank you very much. You can, if you choose, also respond to my home e-mail address: [dasgupta@onebox.com] or [davedasgupta_07430@yahoo.com]

Dave Dasgupta
Manager - Media Relations
Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO)
Phone: 212-898-6610
Fax: 212-898-6616
Please visit our website at: www.iso.com



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