Sanskrit, Spiritual

We do not have “have”: Lessons in Non-possessiveness by Indian Languages

“I have two daughters”. Translate into Sanskrit.

This was one of the questions in the exercise I was working on. If I had to translate this into French, it would be “J’ai deux filles”. The verb for ‘to have’ is very clear in French. It is ‘avoir’. However, as I got down to translate the sentence into Sanskrit, I realized there is not definite verb equivalent to ‘to have’ in Sanskrit. Then, I started checking if there was a word in my mother tongue Telugu and other Indian languages. This is what I found:

Telugu: Naaku Iddaru Kumartelu written as నాకు ఇద్దరు కుమార్తెలు ఉన్నారు.
Hindi: Meri do betiyaan hai written as मेरी दो बेटियाँ हैं|
Kannada: Nanage ibbaru putriyariddāre written as ನನಗೆ ಇಬ್ಬರು ಪುತ್ರಿಯರಿದ್ದಾರೆ.
Malayalam: Enikk raṇṭ peṇmakkaḷuṇṭ written as എനിക്ക് രണ്ട് പെൺമക്കളുണ്ട്
Punjabi: Mērē dō dhī’āṁ hana written as ਮੇਰੇ ਦੋ ਧੀਆਂ ਹਨ
Tamil: Eṉakku iraṇṭu makaḷkaḷ uḷḷaṉar written as எனக்கு இரண்டு மகள்கள் உள்ளனர்.

The verb used in all of the languages is “is” and not “have”. If I have to loosely translate word by word what is generally said in most of the Indian languages, it would be something to the effect of – There are two daughters for me. The closest to indication of ‘have’ is in the subject where I is translated as “my” and the sentence reads “My two daughters” with the plural form of “is” being the verb used. We have trained our minds to translate it using the verb have (because that is the way it is said in English) but I don’t find any verb equivalent for “have” in any of the Indian languages. If you do, please share here.

I found this very fascinating – a great testimony of non-possessiveness in the language. Our culture endorses non-possessiveness and makes sure that we don’t even have a verb to indicate possession.

It is certainly not in our culture to possess, hoard or obtain ownership. All we do is use what is needed, safeguard what is there with us in our life time and when it is time to go, we leave everything behind and move forward. This is what is referred to as Aparigraha in Hinduism, Jainism and perhaps others religions too. There is no point in ownership. We seem to have forgotten this ultimate reality that our languages subtly tell us all the time.

Travel stories

Readymade Science Museum Needs Better Building for School Children in Rajamundry

We visited the Aryabhatta Science Museum in Rajamundry. Well, it is not like any other museum you may have visited. The exhibits are not sophisticated but adequate to explain complex principles to school children. The models are not made out of fancy or costly equipment but with simple materials that are easily available. The museum is stemmed out of a concept that can be easily replicated in every nook and corner of the country and can actually pave way in instilling scientific temperament among school children.

The Aryabhatta Science Museum is the result of the passion of a single individual – Mr. P. Satyanarayana Murthy. A retired principle and a passionate teacher, he took pains to explain all the wonderful exhibits that he meticulously maintains in his MIG quarters. It would be a great service to the school children of Rajamundry if the exhibits find a bigger and better place with some dedicated staff to maintain and take care of them.

The exhibits are not limited to only physics, biology, astronomy. There are several models that explain geography, history. Mr. Murthy had requested for a place to better showcase the exhibits but was asked to purchase the place. How can a retired professor living in a MIG quarters foot the bill for such a venture? Aren’t there any grants in government domain that can foot the bill? Won’t the millions of children as a part of Sarva Siksha Abyaan benefit from the resource which is already existing? Wouldn’t the models that have been created benefit a larger group of children if housed in a better building?

Travel stories

Atreyapuram Pootarekulu

Have you ever eaten a sweet that resembles like a think sheet of plastic paper?  That is what Pootarekulu look like. Two thin sheets of paper that are bound by drops of Ghee (Clarified butter), a spoon of powedered sugar or jaggary is added in between and rolled strategically to give your the final sweet called “Pootarekulu”.  Atreyapuram in East Godavari District is famous for Pootarekulu.
How one makes this thin sheet of paper which looks like plastic but melts in your mouth the moment it is put is an altogether different ball game.  When we arrived at Atreyapuram it was evening and aparently they prepare the sheets of paper in the morning.  It is done with the help of a pot which is inverted over a low flame and smeared with a thin coat of liquid prepared with rice powder and water.  I don’t know the technique but looks very amazing when I saw it being prepared on one of the You Tube channels.

Visit to Atreyapuram was eventful in that I got to eat Putarekulu made stuffed with jaggary and cashewnut powder.  It was nothing like what is available in the sweet shops in Hyderabad.  The one is Hyderabad are too sweet and too powdery.  I was told by our driver that they add saccharine to sugar and that’s why does not give an authentic taste.

Travel stories

River Cruise on Papidikondalu

A visit to Rajamundry is incomplete if you have not taken a boat ride from Rajamundry to PapidiKondalu and back.  Most of the sites on the internet have given great reviews about the scenic beauty of the place where Godavari flows in the middle with East and West Godavari districts on the either sides of the river bank.  Therefore, when we visited Rajamundry it was only natural that we booked a seat for ourselves in one of the boats (or launch as they are referred to here).

Our Launch was called Bhageerati Jalavihar.  The captain of the boat was a very well informed person who have indepth commentary of the places we visited.  He told us that Godavari flow for about 1450 kms before it merges into the sea.  The depth of the river varies between 20 – 40 feet along the route.

As to the PapidiKondalu, they got the name as they appear just like the mid-partition of hair of a women(papidi in telugu). The river drastically reduces in width at this portion.  Aparently, River Godavari appears just like the mid partition at this stretch with Eastern Ghats on either sides of the river.

I was not dissappointed with the scenic beauty of the place.  The best time that I enjoyed was during sunset when I sat right in the front of the boat with an unobstructed view of the terrain ahead of me – the mountains, the river bed – which was so prestine and clean much like that of a beach.  I saw domesticated animals being taken to the river to quench their thirst.  It was quite a site watching the cows bend their necks into the river to sip some water.  Once satisfied they would all turn around and go ahead along their specific path.

I only dissappointing aspect was the loud entertainment which was a bit too load for my consumption. I was also dissappointed with the careless attitude of some of our co-passangers who would throw used plastic glassess and bottled into the Godavari. When they revere the river as a Goddess, I wonder, how they manage to be insensitive to its cleaniless. But for these concerns, I has a good time enjoying the  beauty of Papikondalu and Godavari.

Travel stories

The day I met Hitler

We were in the train from Secunderabad to Kakinada. We were sharing our coach with a 70+ elderly couple, who were alloted upper berths.  We had booked our tickets in advance and opted for lower berths.  Since they were available we got them as requested.  I guess the elderly couple booked their tickets later when all the lower berths were taken.  Ofcourse, we swapped ours with theirs when they requested us. Just as we settled down in our berths, the Ticket Collector (TC) came to check our tickets.

A well built man sporting a tilak on his forehead, the TC has a pleasant disposition. He looked at the upper births given to the elderly couple and  almost was apologetic and wished that there were more berths alloted to the elderly by the railways.  Further he added that most often the seat adjustments were done among the passangers without him having to interfere to make the required adjustments.

Apart from a pleasant disposition, he had a great sense of humor.  His jovial conversations enlivened the whole atmosphere in the compartment.  That is when we noticed his name tag.  It read ‘Hitler Babu’.  We were surprised and amused at the unconventional name and questioned him about the same. Quite casually he shared the story behind his name.

Apparently, his father was reading “Mein Kampf” when, he received a telegram with the news of the birth of a son.  His father decided to name him Hitler.  He must have been quite a maverick!  An uncle, who was more practical and wiser was not so happy with the idea and as a sort of compromise suggested the addition of Babu to the name.  And that’s how Mr. Hitler Babu got his name!  Interesting isn’t it?  

Ofcourse, this Hitler Babu was in no way similar to his other namesake.  He was tall, well built and had a plesant disposition.  He spoke in a cheerful and friendly manner and charmed his passengers with his infectious smile.

Travel stories

Why Not Have Plan B, C…to Reach Your Goal?

Traveling in trains in India has its own charm.  You are forced to eavesdrop on the conversation of co-passangers even if you don’t intend to.  This time around, I overheard a gentleman making a series of conversations over the phone. What I could make out from the conversations was this.  He had a daughter who has taken a competitive examination – most likely it had something to do with doing MS abroad.  She did not clear the test and this is already the fourth time that she was trying to pass this examination.  She seemed pretty desperate from concern shown by the father.

On one hand, I can’t but admire the concern that the father had for the daughter.  He didn’t want his daughter to go into any sort of depression and made a series of phone calls to her friends and family members requesting them to talk to her and reassure her.  He also called his wife asking her not to leave her alone and urged her to sleep with her – lest she resorts to any extreme measure!  He also spoke to another friend and assured him that he is not going to force her to get married since the dream of studying further is not being fullfilled.  He shared that he understand his daughter’s priorities and will support her in that.  That was really heartening to hear in the days when families consider marrying daughers to be the top priority – with total disregard for the individual aspirations of daughters. Hats off to the father.

On the other hand, I am really concerned about the obsession that young girls and boys have with a single competitive exam – be it an JEE, NEET, CEET or what ever! How can you be so sure that your only plan will succeed.  Where is Plan B and Plan C?  Why don’t they consider them.  Take the example of the girl above.  Aparently this is the 4th time that she is giving the exam without any success.  The girl has spent a lot of time, money and effort in clearing this exam.  Had she invested the same amount of effort elsewhere, perhaps she would have met a different kind of success – not exactly what she has expected but success none the less!

There are multiple ways to reach a goal.  If one doesn’t work, we can always try another one instead of struggling with the one that is not working and wasting precious time!

Organic farming

Organic farmer in Andhra Pradesh – Lalitamma

It was indeed heartening to read this news item in “The Hindu”.  Here is an except from the article:

…Meet the 45-year-old Lalitamma who recently went to Lal Bahadur Sastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) at Mussoori to take classes to the trainee IAS officers for one day.

Ms. Lalitamma is an active farmer who has been practicing NPM for the past five years in addition to following rain-fed harvesting system. She not only prepares her own seed and organic fertilisers and pesticides, but also sells it to others based on their requirement. She has been active in spreading NPM methods in the district and trains others in preparing required liquids and solids for their farms using cow dung, cow urine, neem leaves and other organic materials…

You can view the rest of the article by clicking the link to THE HINDU.

In the days when many farmers are abandoning or selling their agricultural land and migrating to cities, it is indeed remarkable that an uneducated and illiterate women had believed in her land, nurtured it, tended to it and makes a living out of it.  I wish there are more such farmers in India who respect their land, nurture it and get only what is due instead of abusing the land for cash-rich crops; which may be profitable in the short term but invariably don’t sustain in the long run.

Organic Farmer of Medak, Andhra Pradesh

Organic Farmer of Medak, Andhra Pradesh (picture courtesy: The Hindu)