Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Random thoughts....

This is a very rough summary of a poem. I will not call it a translation, because I do not know the exact words of the original poem, which is in Kannada. But this is what the poem says:

When a sapling bursts out from the seed, do you hear any cymbals clashing?
When a fruit is formed, and ripens, are any trumpets blown?
The sun and the moon come everyday, giving light and life to this earth, but is there any fanfare?
They just come quietly, do their work, and go.
Such wonderful things are happening all the time, in nature - without any sound.
Then why do you, a mere man, have to tell everybody about everything you do?
Keep your lips sealed, do your work silently. That is real greatness.

Isn't it a beautiful thought?

This is just one poem, out of a beautiful collection of 4-line poetic gems. This collection, known as Mankuthimmana Kagga (Literally, Foolish Thimma's song), is like anything but it's name. Each poem holds within itself the most sublime philosophical thoughts ever. This has been written by Dr. D.V.Gundappa, or DVG, as he is popularly known. He is one of the greatest writers ever.

This collection, and another, Marulu Muniyana Kagga(Literally, Crazy Muniya's song) are similar, in that each is a treasury of little poems like this. There are hundreds of such beautifully worded poems in each of these collections. Ask any Kannadiga, and s/he will speak with reverence of these two works of greatness.

A few years back, my mother gave me the collection of poems, and would read out two of them to me each night, and we would discuss what it meant. The poems bring tears to the eyes. They are so simple, yet hold the most complex thoughts in them. But each thought hits the nail on the head.

Now why did I remember this, all of a sudden? A character in a serial recited this poem last night. This is a very good serial, called Muktha, which is aired every day on E TV Kannada. I avoid serials of any language. But this one, is a serial with a difference. The director, TN Seetaram, has been bringing serials of quality for the past few years. This is the third in his very successful and highly acclaimed series of serials (After Mayamruga and Manvantara). What makes it so popular is that it is the story of you and me. No huge mansions and improbable relationships here. It is a direct, straightforward story, sprinkled with titbits of knowledge, poetic references, and a very keen understanding of human relationships. People who never watch TV have been rescheduling their work to fit this serial into their schedules. (me included). It is better than any serial I have watched in any language, in a long long time. It has its share of irritants and discrepancies, but the overall quality of the serial makes you magnanimous and you tend to ignore all the shortcomings!

Producers and directors say that they give the masses what they ask for. I think that is a sad apology for their movies which are reaching abysmal levels. How did this man TN Seetaram come up with a decent wholesome family serial, when none existed before, and how did it become so successful? The audience did not know that such serials could exist until he came along. Now that they know, they have embraced it wholeheartedly. Can't it work for the rest of the entertainment industry too?

I think there is too much mediocrity everywhere, and we are just being tolerant. Mediocre newspapers, television shows, books, movies..... what I am worried about is - are we getting used to mediocrity? Can we recognize and resist it?

Update: For all of you who have come here looking for details on Mukta - you can try going here. There is a whole lot of discussion going on out there.


Anu said...

Hurray Shruthi!
YOU've hit the nail on the head! 'give people what they want' indeed! Mediocrity breeds mediocrity! And what a lovely poem. Reading mankuthimmana kagga has been on my 'to do' list for a long long time....better get to it soon!

Khushi said...

have you heard of 'swami bramhananda's mankuthimmana kagga? thats actually a good one with some explanation to each of the poem :)
even I follow MUKTHA as much as I can and its most definetly one of the best serials offlate.
Just cant stand any of that Udaya TV/ the SAAS/Bahu serials!

Shruthi said...

@Anu: Thank you! :) Mankuthimmana kagga is a must read... I wonder if there's a summary available in English? (for the non-kannadigas, of course. Kannadigas had better read and appreciate the beautiful words in the original language ;))
As for mediocrity, sigh.. I wish there was quality-policing :)

@Khushi: Yes, have heard of that. There is one more person in Bangalore - Shri Lakshminarayana Bhatta, who gives programs on Kagga. He recites the poem, and explains it. In fact, after listening to him in college, my interest in Kagga was aroused.

Ashok Karanth said...

Great post on DVG and Muktha - I must admit (shamefully) that I have neither read DVG, nor have I watched Muktha - too much travel screws up these things I guess. My dad does his best to narrate some DVG kaggas - but your post has hopefully inspired me to read it up.
I cannot believe the power of Muktha - Karnataka shuts down at 9 every night for the serial! He is a star isin't he? He must get the credit he deserves beyond Karnataka IMHO.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, did watch Mukta when I as in India in Jan. I remember watching Mayamruga and Manvantara. I generally dont watch any Kannada serials or movies but Seetaram has an amazing ability to bring realism into his stories. I also watched his movie, Matadaana which is really very good. But unfortunately given the trash that the pulic gets to watch as movies, this movie just sank without a trace. Looks like Seetaram has an 'M' fixation.


Shruthi said...

@Ashok: Good, I hope you do follow up and read DVG... it's worth it! Yes, well put, Karnataka does shut down at 9 pm ;) ... and TNS does deserve a larger audience.

@Kishore: I haven't watched Matadaana... I am sure it would have been good. It is unfortunate that it did not do too well.. it would have done us good if it had become popular, so that TNS could have come up with more, and lifted the film industry quality level a bit.
An "M" fixation definitely! :)There is one more serial which is playing on ETV - Malebillu - which is under his banner, but directed by someone else. Heard that is also good.

Anonymous said...

Seriously....fitting time to watch a serial whose intro credits shows 37 people/scenes of ppl crying and shedding tears that can put the bhramaputra in full rage to shame !! That too at 9 pm primetime, when I wud rather watch some comedy and liven up my dull spirits after a hard day's work. Its tragic twists & turnarounds at every corner seems to be as addictive as a seasoned smoker to his pack of cigs.Watch it for a month and one gets caught in the weepy weepathon epidemic. I have seen an episode here and there (actually, been forced to) from all 3 serials over the years...and frankly, they are all the same tear shedding crap in different toilet bowls.So, nothing different about it.
It seems ridiculous that all the bad & tragic things in the big bad world happens to only one family struggling hard to cross over from lower to upper middleclass...that seems to be the theme in all 3 series.To me, it nothing but just another soap to which ppl get hooked to...u have the K series in hindi and now the M series in Kannada riding high on popularity thru the pity factor.

Supremus said...

when there is too much of everything, there is always going to be too much of mediocrity. Its not that the quality serials have lessened today, its just that the amount of crap surrounding them have increased 10 fold; and thereby making even the quality ones seem really bad too hehehe!

btw, that was a beautiful poem - very true indeed!


Shruthi said...

@Anon: Well, that's your opinion ;)

@Suyog: Hey you have a point there... worth a thought.... hmmmm

Lakshmi said...

Shruthi, there is an English translation, explanation and commentary of Mankuthimmana kagga called Dim Tim's Muses by Rashi n Sampath. They r NRI's of Karnataka origin staying in in USA !!

Shruthi said...

Wow that is interesting! Will be a good gift for people who cannot read Kannada :) Will see if I can find it anywhere.

Sanjay M said...

Shruti, the poem is really excellent - very very humbling.

Now I have a question... many times we hear of what someone else has done and we get inspiration knowing it. In the same way, shouldn't we also, once in a way having done something which has helped others (as well as ourselves), talk about it (in an objective and non-egoistic way, simply just for the sake of information) which might show others of such possibilities?

Sanjay M said...

For example one common perception of old people is that they're to be kept in some corner and just 'maintained' as long as they last. Say one manages to make a difference to their lives. Now much later, if he spoke about his stories, just to show that such posibilities are also there, would he belong to such a category? Or is it better he remains silent and the whole thing gets forgotten?

Shruthi said...

@Sanjay: Absolutely. I think you have a very valid point there.
But unfortunately, if you have noticed, its usually the empty vessels that make more noise. The people who really have something to share, keep quiet, due to maybe modesty. Maybe we have to develop a style which does not sound pompous and self-praising, but rather is matter-of-fact, like you say.

Sanjay M said...

Hmm - Maybe we have to develop a style which does not sound pompous and self-praising, but rather is matter-of-fact is a very good tip for a writer. I guess it can only evolve over time and practice - atleast I haven't found it always easy :-)

Shruthi said...

@Sanjay: Definitely not! But it is easier to control your tone when you write it. You can read and re-read it, and if it does not sound fine, you can fine tune it. But while speaking, once it is out of your mouth, that's it. End.

Deppe said...

must agree with you! My only gripe about Muktha, though, is that it killed dinner table conversations in my family. Now everybody is too busy watching the serial.

There was a character in Manvanthara called Shivalingamurthy (I think) who used to come up with some gems too

Anonymous said...

Hello Shruti

I was looking for a English translation of Manku Thimmana Kagga by DVG and came across your writing. Can u pls send me a linkl. Thanks.
Bangalore, dtd Oct. 19, 2006

Sanjay M said...

I just started to hear the MP3 audio of it - just amazing.

sakshiraj said...

hi shruthi,
VG birthday celebration
Hi All,

I would like to thank you Now we are a small group of like minded people willing to do something good to make our lives more meaningful and contribute to the society as much as we can within our capabilities.

As a continuation of our activities, we have planned to celebrate Dr D.V.Gundappa's 120th birthday on 17th march, 2007. The main purpose of this program is to spread the works of DVG. His 'Mankuthimmana Kagga' is a must read for all. According to many Kannda literary experts 'Mankuthimmana Kagga' would have won a noble prize if written in English, such is the quality of it. We got a very good response last year when we celebrated 119th birthday and many fans of DVG are in touch with us.

What we are going to achieve by conducting this program?

There are some elite people in our society who are hardcore fans of Mankuthimmana Kagga and DVG. We can get their attention and use their services (if they are willing to) towards SSS activities. This will really help us in expanding our area of work and make SSS a very well organized social organization.

What is the purpose of this mail?

I needed to know how many of you would like to invest your valuable time at least 2-3 hours per week for making this program a huge success.

Please give your frank opinion about this mail. We would like to plan the activities based on your responses.


MSB Adventures said...

Hi Shruthi,
Thanks for giving a good article.Mankuthimmana Kagga is a must read for all.It is popularly known as "Kannadada Upanishathu" because of its immense value.
Also Mankuthimmana kagga is well explained by two scholars one is Swami Brahmananda and Dr.R.Ganesh. The audio of this is also available.

vishwa said...

Hello Shruthi,

Can you let please send me the download version of Mankutimmana kagga by Swami Brahmananda. I like to hear this while traveling or can you let me know, where I can download. If you have a MP3 version of this please send it to Thanks for your help.

Santosh Anand said...

Hi Shruthi,

Really great to see a whole lot of discussions going on Kagga. This shows how simple and yet very complex are the thoughts given by DVG almost 55 years back is still relevant in today's times too.

i have been part of Chinmaya mission and have heard Brahmaji speak volumes about Manku thimmana kagga.

These verses are just mind blowing.

Rajesh said...

Check in this url -- u'll find kagga by Swami Bhramanada (Chinmaya Mission).
All the 10 tracks avaliable............ enjoy listening.....

Rajesh said...

tantragna said...

yava schoolu nivu odiddu?


Anonymous said...

hi all:
was wonderful to read all ur comments.. is there a way i could obtain:
a) the chinmaya mission swamiji's version along with his explanation- had a few tapes long ago-dont seem to find it anywhere now
b) the english translation of 'kagga' with some explanation also..
lookign forward.. thnx folks!

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