This fortnight we have two verses from Rasāla’s very own Dr Shankar, who is a celebrated Sanskrit poet as well as being a psychiatrist. Often people assume that Sanskrit poetry is by definition pre-modern, or at least not contemporary. In fact there are still many poets composing in Sanskrit today in India – and a few elsewhere – although, in the absence of the largesse of court and king, most have to earn their bread through more prosaic means.
This week’s verse describes how the heat, here anthropomorphised, of grīṣma (summer) suffers at the hands of the traditional summer coolants.
व्याधूतो व्यजनानिलेन शिशिरैः प्रक्षालितो वारिभिः
सन्नश्चन्दनकर्दमे विहसितो मुक्ताकलापस्रजा ।
भ्रान्तश्छत्रवने सषाडवरसं पीतो निदाघातपः
क्षीणक्षीणबलः क्षपामुखमसावाकाङ्क्षति प्रेक्षितुम् ॥ शार्दूलविक्रिडितम्
Battered by gusts from fans
washed away with cold water
drowned in a pool of sandalwood paste
mocked by strings of pearls
disorientated by the forest of parasols
slurped up alongside cooling juices,
this ferocious summer heat
growing weaker and weaker
longs to see the night closing in.
(Unfortunately you can’t listen to these two verses – our iPod ran out of juice at the crucial moment, but we hope to have the audios up in a week or two when the device and its owner return from Assam.)