Poetry Section #3

Today's poem is about the marriage of Rama and Sita. For those of you who don't know (or remember!), Rama was a main character from the great Hindu epic The Ramayana; the legendary prince of Ayodhya (in the present-day state of Uttar Pradesh) and an incarnation of Vishnu. Sita was his wife, but there is a story about their marriage.

In the old days in India, kings who had daughters desired by many other princes would hold a gathering called the swayamvara. There were two kinds of swayamvaras: one kind was where all of the suitors were seated on thrones, and the princess would close her eyes (so that she wouldn't fall just for looks) while her companion would introduce each suitor to her. When the princess made up her mind on who she wanted to marry, she would open her eyes and garland the groom.

The other kind of swayamvara, like this one, was where the king would make a challenge. Whoever won got the princess as the prize. In this kind of swayamvara, the princess gets to actually see and meet her suitors (this is just so that she knows who they are. Anyway, it doesn't matter if she sees them; she's not the one who decides!)

Well, Princess Sita's father (King Janaka) held the second type of swayamvara, and the challenge was to string a certain bow he had. Rama lifted the bow and easily broke it with his strength, so he won. This poem talks about it very emotionally:

G߿ H

W E޺ G

ȿB ޼޵zV

B{ !



ᵢ I K

T ߵ.

Listen to the above poem! Notice that the first four lines are sung with greater emphasis and feeling.

This is a rough translation of the poem:

With a force as hard as thunder beats,

They heard the bow break;

The kings shuddered

Like snakes!

As Maithili (Sita) smiled as

Happily as a female peacock,

So also did joy enter into

The heart of the "snake-charmer" (Rama).

And finally, the vocabulary:

/iTi/- thunder. A very common word, also used in literature. This might be related to the work for beating, /aTi/. Listen!

G߿ /veTTiTum/- in this case, "beating" (as in thunder beating). Listen! From the verbs G /veTTuka/ (lit. "to cut") and /iTuka/ (lit. "to put"). All of the above words are both "written & col." !

H /vaNNam/- (written & col.) literally "weight," but in this case, "force." Listen! So  G߿ H = With a force (like/as hard as) lightning.

W /vil/- bow. Written & col. but this word is used in poetry with other words. As a separate word it is actually /vill/, pronounced like this!

/murrinjnjochcha/- "breaking sound." Not a real word, but a combination of the words E /murrinjnju/ (broken) and /ochcha/ (sound). Listen! Both words are written and col. 

G /kETTu/- written & col. meaning "heard." Past tense of the verb ZA /kELkkuka/ (to listen/hear). G߿ H  W E޺ G "With a force as hard as lightning, they heard [the sound of] the bow breaking." ZA! (listen)

ȿB /naTungngi/- shivered. Past tense of verb ȿB. Written & col. Listen!

޼޵zV /raajaakanmaar/- (written & col.) kings. Plural of ޼ /raajaav/, "king." Listen!

B{ /uragangngaLe pOle/- like snakes. BZ /uragangngaL/ is the plural for /uragam/, a poetic word for snake. /pOle/ in Malayalam is a suffix meaning "like, similar to." Listen! ȿB ޼޵zV B{ - The kings shivered like snakes.

/maithili/- In this song, the word refers to Sita. Actually, means a lady from the city of or Mithila, the birthplace of Sita. Listen!

Wɿ /mayilpETa pOle/- Wɿ is written & col. for a female peacock (or a "pea-hen," as some Indians call it). So the phrase means "like a female peacock." Listen!

Lע IZ /santhOsham puuNTaal/- about as poetic as in the common English translation "as/like [she] attains happiness." is written & col. for happiness, but IZ is more poetic and comes from /puuNuka/ "to attain." Listen! Perhaps a simpler translation for the phrase would be "as [she] happily smiles," or "as happily as she smiles"

Wɿ Lע IZ - Just as Maithili smiles as happily as a peacock

/kauthukam/- a poetic phrase for "interest" or "happiness." Listen!

I /uNTaay/- written & col. meaning "[so] there was." Related to verb I /uNT/, meaning "there was." Listen!

K /vannu/- written & col., literally meaning "come" (in the past tense). From verb /varuka/, meaning "to come." Listen! Note: these verbs were also introduced in the second poem. 

T /chEthassii/- a poetic word meaning "in the heart/mind."  /chEthas/, "mind," is a poetic equivalent to col. T /manass/. The - at the end means "in," but it's usually used like that in poetry only. Listen!

ߵ /kauSikanum/- written & col., literally meaning "and the snake-charmer." ߵX /kauSikan/ means a snake-charmer and the - at the end means "and." Listen!

ᵢ I K T ߵ.- so joy entered the heart of the snake-charmer.

I hope that was easy enough to read, but YIKES!!! All of these new words! Yes, I can understand how overwhelmed you must feel, so that's why you shouldn't try to study all of the words from the Poetry Section at once! (Or easier still, don't study at all from the poetry section [!]...until, perhaps, you are confident you can learn this easily.) 

Our next lesson will concern irregular vertically-stacked letters; that is, letters stacked on top of one another but they're not written the way you might think they are!